Because of Hurricane Lee, ocean water conditions are dangerous and even life-threatening, and serious warnings and advisories are in effect for all beaches in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.
The warnings continue after a 15-year-old from Georgia died after falling from a blow-up raft in the ocean and getting caught in a rip current Wednesday afternoon in Nassau County. The teen disappeared from North Beach Park and Fernandina Beach Fire Rescue found his body Thursday about a half-mile from where he was last seen.
A woman and another teenager who had been on the blow-up raft were pulled from the water and taken to a hospital to be checked out.
People are strongly encouraged to stay out of the water Friday and Saturday as the risk of deadly rip currents, like the one that proved deadly for the 15-year-old, is high.
Rip currents can sweep even very strong swimmers into deeper water.
A high rip current risk is in effect through late Friday and a high surf advisory is in effect until 5 a.m. Saturday. That means there are large breaking waves that can reach between 5 feet and 7 feet tall, creating dangerous swimming and surfing conditions and beach erosion.
“Anytime the red flag waves, you don’t go in the water,” Fernandina Beach resident Julie Jones said. “There’s so many rip currents out here. And people that aren’t familiar with the rip currents don’t understand them. But if you’re young, and you’re not a good swimmer, even good swimmers have a hard time getting through.”
When dealing with rip currents, it’s important to remember:
Inexperienced swimmers should stay out of the water during high-risk timesSwim near a lifeguardIf you get caught in a rip current, don’t panic but swim parallel to the shorelineIf you’re having a tough time escaping, face the shore and wave or call for help
The Weather Authority meteorologist Mark Collins, a former lifeguard and avid surfer, demonstrated Thursday how to avoid and escape rip currents. (You can watch the video below.)