MIAMI (CBS4) – South Florida beachgoers need to be cautious before going into the water. There are dangerous rip currents along South Florida beaches and beaches up and down the southern Atlantic coastline.

The Division of Emergency Management issued a warning Wednesday. They say rip currents could be extremely strong through the weekend along the coastlines of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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Red warning flags are flying at South Florida beaches to warn swimmers of the potential danger.

Deputy State Meteorologist Michelle Palmers said beachgoers should always check the warning flags before entering the water. She said  no one should enter the water when red flags are flying.

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Guide: How To Escape A Rip Current

Rip currents are narrow, powerful currents of water that run perpendicular to the beach. 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.

Officials say rip currents are the number one concern for lifeguards in Florida.

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Beach goers are urged, whenever possible, to swim at a lifeguard-protected beach. If unsure of what the flags mean, ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. Also stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.