TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Severe Weather Awareness is typically every year in February and covers a different hazard every day.

Tuesday’s topic relates to marine hazards and rip currents, something that occurs frequently along Florida’s coastline.

Thunderstorms are a big marine hazard in the summertime when the sea breeze storms move offshore in the afternoons and evenings. It is always important to not only check the wind speeds, but the direction and whether or not there is a going to be a dominant direction for the sea breeze.

Here on the west coast of Florida, the best boating days are when there is a dominant west coast sea breeze that pushes the afternoon storms inland and toward the east coast with no chance of them meandering back west, and then offshore.

That is the same for beach days, always check when the sea breeze storms will begin to fire up and make sure to be packing up before those dark clouds grow taller along the coast.

Also at the beaches, swim near life guard stands and look for the colored flags. Different colors indicate different hazards. For example, a purple flag means there is hazardous marine life in the area like jelly fish.

It is important to swim near a life guard for multiple reasons. They are not only trained to help when necessary or in an emergency, but they are also trained to look for the hazards in the ocean, like rip currents, before they become an issue.

Rip currents can form on the sunniest of beach days anywhere along the coastline. They area often found near piers and jetties on any given day.

They are most common on days with an onshore wind. This happens frequently in the winter, spring and fall months on the west coast of Florida but happens much more often on the east coast.

The wind pushes water up against the coastline and small currents form that bring that water back out to sea, this is the rip current.

If you ever find yourself being drug out to sea, don’t panic. While the surf may be rough, the current will not drag you under.

Swim parallel to shore to escape the rip current. The area of water that is being pulled out to sea is typically not very wide, so if you swim along with the coastline, you will swim out of the narrow current and into a current of water moving back toward the coast.

Do not try and swim against the current either, even the strongest and fastest swimmers can rarely out pace the current. You will save a significant amount of energy swimming out of the rip current than against it.