There has been a elevated risk for rip currents along panhandle beaches recently so use caution if you are headed into the water.
A rip current, also known as a rip tide, happens when a sand bar breaks causing a strong surface current that can pull swimmers hundreds of yards off-shore.
About 100 people a year are killed in rip currents nationwide – and they present a threat along all of Florida’s coasts.
The current doesn’t pull people down – it pulls them away from the beach, so most deaths associated with rip currents occur when people panic and try to swim directly toward shore against the current.
They usually become totally exhausted and drown.
Since rip currents are normally only about 10 to 30 yards wide, if you find yourself caught in one, the best escape, especially for the weak or non-swimmer, is to wade or swim sideways across the current, parallel to the beach.
Rip currents tend to extend on average from 50 to 200 yards offshore, so another way to make it out alive is to float with the current out beyond the breakers where the rip current will weaken, then swim shoreward at an angle away from it.