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Dangerous rip currents keep lifeguards on high alert

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Updated: 6/03/2013 11:27 am
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Lifeguards were extra-staffed and on high alert after weather conditions stirred up dangerous and potentially deadly rip currents.
Beachgoers lined the ocean for miles this Memorial Day.

Jennifer Roden and her daughters made the trip from Macclenny. It's a family tradition as the destination never changes, but this year, the rules did.

Gusty onshore winds created a high risk for rip currents.

“It's just too dangerous,” said Roden. “We don't let them go by themselves. They always have someone go with them."

Conditions were so dangerous this holiday, the Jacksonville Beach Lifeguard Association bumped up its staff for the holiday, putting more than 50 lifesavers on the lookout.

Crews made multiple rescues this afternoon. Our camera caught one little boy who needed help making it out of choppy waters.

“If you don't stay calm, the rip currents could possibly take you out to sea and you could possibly drown. But if you do stay calm, just let the runout kind of take its course, swim parallel to the shore and then come in, you're good to go,” said Lt. Richard Ghiotto.

That is advice that Roden, a mother of two, always keeps in mind.

“I guess you always think about having fun and stuff when coming with your family,” said Roden. “You don’t really think about those dangerous things that happen until something does happen."

Jacksonville Beach lifeguards report at least seven rescues made Monday and more than a dozen Saturday and Sunday.

In St. Johns County, crews responded to more than five rescues, Monday and nearly 30 over the weekend.

Persistent onshore east winds will continue an enhanced rip current risk at area beaches through much of this week.
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