NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - Surfers on New Smyrna Beach were loving the big waves this weekend, but it's not all fun and games. Beach Safety said they'd rescued more than a dozen people from the water before noon Sunday, including a surfer who was listed in critical condition.
People like Mason Short, who was visiting from the Midwest, may not know about the danger. “It's pretty nice,” he said, “the waves are pretty rough, a lot rougher than I've ever seen.”
Under those rough waves, though, could be rip currents – powerful undertows that drag swimmers out to sea. On Saturday, 44 people had to be rescued from these waves. Sunday saw the same rough surf going on, and they're still warning for hazardous conditions.
There are some important things to do if you’re caught in a rip current. First, stay calm and do not fight the current. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and then swim to the shore. If you can't swim out of the current, calmly float or tread water, and wave or shout for help.
Locals, like Dawn Jarman, say it's something everyone should know. “There's a lot of snowbirds, tourists, what have you,” she said, “I don't think a lot of people know about it, I don't think they educate themselves on it, as they should.”
Jarman remembered getting caught when she was young. “I'd been taught, being born and raised here, I'd been taught to swim parallel to shore, which is what I did, and you eventually get spit out of it,” she said.
It's one of the many reasons they say it's important to always swim in front of a lifeguard.