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  • Avery Ehrig

Powerful rip currents take effect in West Palm Beach

Photo courtesy of Avery Ehrig

The ocean can be a therapeutic escape. But, as the ocean becomes full of rage, waves rush and crash against each other creating currents that will tear anything away from the shore.

Lifeguards and swimmers express concern over strong riptides this hurricane season. Early Tuesday morning, on Sept. 9, an on-duty lifeguard Paul Scott, for Municipal Beach expressed concerns regarding the rip currents.

“Rip currents are a serious danger to locals and tourists, especially during hurricane season. It's important to be aware of the red flags posted at local beaches,” said Scott.

Scott's experience emphasizes the dangers the ocean holds and how to avoid them.

“If ever caught in this situation, never fight and or swim against the waves.”

Scott tells folks to stay calm and relaxed while floating on their back. The currents can be fast-moving and extremely unexpected.

These currents are forming near the Atlantic Coast, due to water piling up between the breaking waves on shore, which often appear perpendicular. As temperatures over land increase, including the Arctic ice caps melting, this increases the sea levels.

According to NPR News, riptides injure and kill more people than hurricanes and even tornados combined.

The East Coast of Florida has rarely experienced hurricanes, national weather issues or even storm surges.

“Since the beginning of June, 18 people have died in rip currents across the country, representing more than 30% of the 55 people who have drowned from the fast-moving water phenomenon this year. On average, 71 people die in rip current drownings each year,” as stated by the National Weather Service to the Washington Post.

The currents rush and race, creating a strong enough force to pull any swimmer directly out to sea.

“In my five years of living here, I have never seen such powerful waves and riptides as I have seen this past week. Being a local I have seen several young children and even surfers being pulled to sea by unexpected currents,” said local Lavender Leon.

Leon explained how easy it was to be dragged out to sea in just the blink of an eye. Most swimmers do not notice they are close to a ripe tide. They can be almost invisible, yet extremely dangerous.

“Riptides can be unexpected and terrifying to get caught in. As a surfer, I have had experience with dangerous currents. It is important to never swim against the current and stay calm,” Leon added.

All beach lifeguards are fully trained and are made sure to be the strongest swimmers.

The Red Cross has more to add on lifeguard qualifications stating, “The lifeguard staff training includes passing biannual qualification testing and becoming First Responder Certified.”

Plus, lifeguards on Florida beaches must be qualified to fit the requirements.

“Swim parallel to shore until you are out of the current or float until the current dissipates then swim diagonally to shore,” mentioned the Red Cross on how to escape rip currents.

Rip currents are taking full effect in West Palm Beach and along the Atlantic Coast.

“It is easy to get pulled away from shore without even knowing it. Stay aware and cautious of colored flags held high on beaches before entering waters,” Scott said.

By Avery Ehrig

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