BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — With Independence Day weekend coming up, many people will be heading to the beach. With the possibility of rip currents affecting some swimmers, officials want people to stay safe before getting in the water.

What You Need To Know

  • Rip currents can occur despite what the weather might look like

  • Surviving a rip current means swimming parallel to the shore, not fighting the current

  • Safety officials advise swimming near lifeguards and knowing your swimming ability before you get in the water

Brevard County Ocean Rescue officials said as of the end of June, they have conducted 200 rescues. Five people have also drowned within the county’s shorelines. 

Three of those occurred just in the past weekend amid strong rip currents, according to maps from the National Weather Service.

A 45-year-old Indiana man drowned near Cocoa Beach on Saturday. The following day, two people drowned after swimming near Juan Ponce de León Landing south of Melbourne Beach.

People at the beach spotted 23-year-old Zandria Scott in distress and brought her onshore, but she later died at a local hospital on Sunday. 

On Monday, the body of 26-year-old Geronimo Deangel Black was found in the surf near Spessard Holland Beach Park in Melbourne Beach.

Spectrum News 13 Certified Meteorologist Chris Gilson said about 19 people on average die from encounters with rip currents off of Florida’s coasts each year. He added that rip currents can come about, even if it is a nice day.

“Could be sunny skies. It all has to do with the wind flow onto the land from that Atlantic. Strong, easterly, onshore winds can churn up the ocean enough to create rip currents,” Gilson said. “It can also develop from off-shore thunderstorms from tropical systems, hurricanes, things like that.”

A rip current can move at speeds up to 8 miles per hour, faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint. Those who have lived through a rip current event, like Florida Tech Professor Robert Weaver, said you cannot struggle against it.

“It was a challenge. If you try and fight the current of the main rip, you will lose. And so, you really have to break free of that main current. And the best way to do that is go back to where the waves are breaking,” Weaver said.

For more information on rip currents in your area, click here.