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Swimmers warned of rip currents along US beaches after multiple deaths

As temperatures rise and people flock to beaches to cool off, beachgoers are being urged to be aware of a hidden danger that has already claimed several lives along the U.S. coast so far this summer: rip currents.

Rip currents are strong, narrow currents of water that move quickly from the shoreline out to sea and can occur on any beach where waves break.

Rip currents can also occur on the Great Lakes.

Rip currents have already been reported along the U.S. coast from the Florida Panhandle to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, with the Fox Forecast Center expecting potential problems to continue through at least the weekend.

Deadly rip currents continue in Florida

In Florida, there is a high risk of rip currents along the Panhandle, while there is a moderate risk of rip currents along Florida’s east coast from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee issued a statement about rip currents and urged beachgoers to be vigilant.

“The weather is great for beachgoers, but even though the waves are only about two feet high, dangerous rip currents lurk just below the surface.” The NWS said“Beach visitors should observe all beach flags and follow the directions of beach safety officers.”

Rip currents were reported along the East Coast last week. David Santiago/Miami Herald via The Associated Press, files

The ongoing warning comes after at least eight people have died in Florida due to rip currents in the past few days.

An Oklahoma teenager and four others died near Panama City Beach, authorities said. A man in his early 20s also drowned at the same beach on Sunday.

A mother and father with their six children were swept away by a rip current and drowned while visiting Hutchinson Island near Port St. Lucie.

This diagram shows the risk of rip currents in Florida on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Fox Weather

High risk of rip currents in the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday

Those heading to some of North Carolina’s beautiful coastal beaches should beware of rip currents.

There is a moderate risk of rip currents along Cape Hatteras, with a high risk of rip currents just south of there.

NWS Office in Newport/Morehead City, North Carolina Beach Hazard Statement Issued Visitors are being warned to beware of rip currents on beaches from Cape Lookout to Surf City.

This chart shows the risk of rip currents in the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Fox Weather

Swimmers at Northeast beaches also at risk

Swimmers off New York’s Long Island coast are also advised to exercise caution as rip currents are a threat.

“Beachgoers should be careful not to ride the waves.” The New York NWS office said in a rip current statement:“Rising tides can sweep even expert swimmers away from shore into deeper water.”

This chart shows the risk of rip currents for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Fox Weather

How to Survive a Rip Current

If you’re swimming and feel like you’re being pulled underwater, stay calm.

Rip currents won’t pull you underwater, they’ll just pull you away from the shoreline, and while they’re still scary, staying calm could mean the difference between life and death.

Try to stay afloat in the water, fighting the current will only tire you out.

Instead, swim parallel to shore to get out of the rip current and follow the waves back to shore.