TALLAHASSEE ó Florida Division of Emergency Management officials remind residents and visitors to stay alert and use caution at the beach. It is important to remember that when red flags are flying, beachgoers should remain alert while visiting Floridaís beaches. A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water that runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean.

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:

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 donít see them.

If caught in a rip current:

Practice safe boating:

To learn more about severe weather in Florida, and to Get A Plan!, visit www.FloridaDisaster.org.