Florida beaches are absolutely gorgeous, and if you’re visiting from out of town, it’s only to be expected that you’ll want to dive into the ocean and swim. Before you run down to the shoreline, read through these quick safety tips.

1. Know what beach flags mean.
Do you know what these flag colors mean? Before you hit the beach, memorize them.

  • Double Red: Danger/Water Closed
  • Single Red: High Hazard/Strong Current
  • Yellow: Medium Hazard/Moderate Current
  • Green: Low Hazard/Calm Conditions
  • Purple: Dangerous Marine Life

2. When you walk in the water, shuffle your feet.
Did you know that stingrays bury themselves in the sand, often in shallow water? They only sting in self defense, so shuffling your feet will give them time to swim away.

3. Know how to escape a rip current.
Rip currents often form near sandbars and piers, and they can be terrifying. If you get caught in one, here’s what you should do.

  1. Keep calm. Don’t tire yourself out by fighting the rip current.
  2. Swim sideways, parallel to the beach. 
  3. When you get out of the rip current, swim at an angle towards shore.
  4. If this doesn’t work, try to float or calmly tread water. Once the rip current brings you offshore begins to weaken, swim towards the beach.
  5. If you can’t reach shore, yell loudly and wave your arms for help.

4. Find the lifeguards.
Swim near a lifeguard, if possible.

5. If you spot lightning, don’t swim.
Lightning is a huge hazard. If you hear thunder, even far off in the distance, leave the beach immediately.