BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — It is a gorgeous weekend throughout the area and if you're planning to spend part of it at the beach, the state's emergency management office is reminding you that rip currents are a lot like gremlins — they're cute and seem harmless until you add water.
To that end, here is an advisory issued by the state:
The Florida Division of Emergency Management reminds all Florida’s residents and visitors to use caution this weekend, as an elevated risk of rip currents is expected along some of Florida’s beaches. At the coast, strong onshore winds of 15-20 mph and large waves will combine to generate a high risk of rip currents for Atlantic Coast beaches from Volusia County through Miami-Dade County and a moderate rip current risk for Northeast Florida beaches from Nassau County through Flagler County. Otherwise, pleasant conditions will generate a low risk of rip currents for the remaining Gulf and Panhandle beaches.
Dry air and breezy conditions will elevate the risk for wildfires across most of Florida today. The highest wildfire risks will exist in the West Panhandle and Southwest Florida, otherwise the remainder of North and Central Florida will see a moderate risk of wildfires.
“Dry and breezy conditions across Florida may increase the risk of wildfire and rip currents this weekend,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Meteorologist Brad Schaaf. “It is important for all Floridians to use caution, check local weather outlooks and follow all instructions from local officials.”
The Division urges Floridians to become Firewise and to Get A Plan! for their homes and businesses to prevent potentially hazardous wildfires. Along with Firewise prevention measures, officials urge residents to follow these guidelines set by the Division of Forestry:
Burning yard waste does not require an authorization from the Division of Forestry, but you should check with your local city and county officials to see if there are any restrictions in your area.
Your fire must be contained to an eight-foot diameter pile or non-combustible barrel and must be at least 25 feet from forests, 25 feet from your house, 50 feet from a paved public road, and 150 feet from other occupied buildings.
Don't burn on windy days or when humidity is below 30 percent.
Never leave a fire unattended, and make sure it is out before you leave.
It is important to remember that when red flags are flying, beachgoers should remain alert while visiting Florida’s beaches. A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean.
When at the beach:
Before you leave for the beach, check the latest National Weather Service forecast for local beach conditions. Many offices issue a Surf Zone Forecast.
Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify hazards.
Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags.
Different beaches may use different colors but a commonly used series include:
Double Red: Beach is closed to the public
Single Red: high hazard, e.g., strong surf or currents
Yellow: medium hazard
Green: Calm conditions although caution is still necessary
Purple: Flown with either Red or Yellow: Dangerous marine life
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.
Be cautious. Always assume rip currents are present even if you don’t see them.
If caught in a rip current:
DON’T PANIC. Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
NEVER swim against the rip. Stay afloat and signal for help.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle–away from the current–towards shore.
If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water.
Draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
If you see someone in trouble, don't become a victim too:
Get help from a lifeguard or, if one is unavailable, have someone call 9-1-1.
Throw the rip current victim something that floats–a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
Yell instructions on how to escape.