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For Immediate Release: October 21, 2005

Contact: ESF 14 - State Emergency Operations Center, 850-921-0384

High Risk of Rip Currents and Rough Surf this Weekend Along the Gulf Coast Beaches in Advance of Hurricane Wilma

TALLAHASSEE - Florida emergency management officials urge residents and marine interests along Florida's Gulf Coast to use extreme caution during the upcoming weekend in advance of a potential landfall of Hurricane Wilma. High seas and swells moving northward into the Gulf of Mexico from Hurricane Wilma will reach all of Florida's Gulf coast this weekend, resulting in a high risk for deadly rip currents for those choosing to enter the water.

"With the slow advance of Hurricane Wilma, we are concerned that some individuals will venture into unsafe waters," said Director Craig Fugate of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "It is critical that individuals understand their limitations, be aware of rip currents, and take appropriate safety measures."

If local area beaches remain open, here are some basic safety rules for rip currents:

  1. Always use the "buddy-system" and know your ability as a swimmer.
  2. If caught in a rip current, remain calm. Rip currents generally abate in several yards.
  3. When free of the out flow, swim parallel to the shore, and then swim in to safe waters.
  4. Obey all local rules and observe any posted warnings.

Other beach safety tips include: Wear sunscreen and be sure to drink plenty of liquids, especially water. Stay aware of your environment. Watch out for personal watercraft and surfers. Always keep an eye out on the weather.

"If red flag warnings are posted, play it safe and stay out of the water," added Director Fugate.

For additional information on rip currents, please visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov. Hazard awareness and safety tips can be found online at the Florida Division of Emergency Management's website at: www.FloridaDisaster.org.

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Last updated: November 09, 2007

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