Rip Currents common along Gulf beaches - WFLA News Channel 8

Rip Currents common along Gulf beaches

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The death of a 14-year-old beachgoer Saturday on Anna Maria Island is the latest reminder of an all too common danger along the Gulf beaches--rip current.

Authorities say Dushmy Nelson from Winter Haven was swept away by the current while wading in knee deep water. Another boy was able to get back to shore.

Patrick Brafford, Clearwater's water safety supervisor said his staff has rescued three or four swimmers on Clearwater Beach in just the past five days or so.

"Anwhere you've got waves yOU've got a chance for rip currents cause those waves push that water onto shore," Brafford said. "That water's got to go back somewhere It's going to follow  the bath of least  resistance."

Green flags were flying on Clearwater Beach Monday indicating safe conditions, but Brafford said rip currents re-occur with regularity when conditions are windy and the surf builds up.

Brafford said the most important thing for swimmers is to remain calm.  He said they should float along with the rip current's flow out to sea until the current subsides enough to swim parallel to the shore and then back to safety on the beach.

Rip currents are caused by breaks in the sand bar through which wind-driven water rushes  on its way back to the Gulf.

Several visiting beachgoers on Clearwater Beach Monday said they had heard about rip currents but didn't know how to respond if they were caught in one.

The U.S. Lifeguard association says about 100 people drown every year due to rip currents and it is the single biggest reason for beach rescues by coastal life guards.

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