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Deadly Week in the U.S. With Rip Current Drownings and More

3 weeks ago

Severe weather and other impacts of Mother Nature have proven to be a dangerous affair across the U.S. in the last several weeks. As of late Saturday, eight people have died from being swept away by rip currents in Florida over the past week. Meanwhile, shark attacks and lightning strikes have sent a handful of other people to the hospital. Here is the latest on these events.

Rip Currents Claim Eight Lives in Florida

It has been a deadly stretch of days at Florida beaches due to strong rip currents in the ocean waters off the peninsula. Five of the fatalities happened at Panama City Beach alone. Two of the deaths happened last Sunday with three more fatalities occurring two days prior.

The ages of the victims ranged from 19 to 61. Three of the deaths occurred in a group of men in their 20s that went out for a swim after checking into their condo for a vacation.

In addition to the deaths in the state's panhandle, a couple from Pennsylvania died on the eastern coast of the state while on vacation with six children. The couple became caught up in a riptide current while in the water north of West Palm Beach.

Local officials are sounding the alarm bells and urging people to pay heed to red flag warnings. All five of the victims in Panama City Beach were swimming with red flag warnings posted at the area beaches. Single red flags are used to warn of "high hazard conditions with high surf and/or currents" while double red flags demonstrate "extremely dangerous conditions."

Rip currents are typically the strongest during times of low tide cycles as well as high astronomical tides. When both of these elements are in place, you will find a greater threat of strong rip currents.

According to the U.S. Life Saving Association, almost 80% of water rescues are blamed on rip currents. These strong channels of water work to pull swimmers away from the safety of the shoreline and deeper out into the ocean. The association said that over 100 people are killed each year in the U.S. at the hands of rip currents.

Rip currents can vary in size with some measuring only 10 to 20 feet wide and larger currents clocking in at over 200 feet wide. The currents can also send swimmers out to sea at speeds of over 5 mph. It is important to note that rip currents can happen even on sunny and calm days when you are not expecting any type of beach dangers. The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to pay attention to red flag warnings and act accordingly.

Credit: Adobe Stock

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