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Rip Currents Pose Danger Friday

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(Photo Credit: CBS4) Warning flags were posted at Haulover Beach on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.

(Photo Credit: CBS4) Warning flags were posted at Haulover Beach on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If you’re going to escape the holiday shopping madness by going to the beach, you’re asked to use extreme caution due to dangerous rip currents.

State emergency management officials said rip currents are expected along the entire Florida East Coast including South Florida.

A rip current is a narrow powerful current which runs perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet wide. Rip currents can often move at more than 5 miles per hour or faster.

Beach goers are urged, whenever possible, to swim at a lifeguard-protected beach. If unsure of what the warning flags mean, ask a lifeguard about the conditions before going in the water.

A red flag means rip currents. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.

Also stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.

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