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Flags warn swimmers in Galveston of dangerous rip currents

If you're going out on the beach and plan on getting in the water, you should be sure to check the flags to see how rough the water is that day.

GALVESTON, Texas — Most people wouldn’t say the conditions Friday in Galveston Beach were picture perfect.

Jody Barraclough is visiting Galveston with her family and they're making the best of it even if it means just dipping their toes in the water.

“If we lived here this probably wouldn’t be our day to come but it’s ... we’re here for two days, so,” Barraclough said. “The seas are dangerous for big ones and little ones and you have to be really careful. Keep an extra eye out.”

Galveston Island Beach Patrol Lieutenant Austin Kirwin said red flags are flying, which means the danger for rip currents is higher than normal.

“The main thing people forget to understand is to remain calm, keep your head above water and tread,” Kirwin said. “If you’re a good swimmer, you swim parallel to shore and let the waves push you back in.”

Surfers like Davis Noyes said the water is rough.

“The surf is strong,” he said. “You can stand in this and be fine but what happens with a rip is you don’t realize you’re in it and then the next thing you know you’re 300 yards offshore and that’s when the panic sets in and that’s when people drown in the rip.”

Kirwin said beachgoers always should swim near a lifeguard.

“We’ve had quite a few rescues the past couple of weeks. Essentially, the water has been like this. Really strong currents and a lot of waves so it’s been a hard week for us but we’re out here doing everything we can,” Kirwin said.

He said it will help ensure you and your family stay safe.

If you do plan to visit Galveston, the easiest way to know if the water is safe is to pay attention to the flags. Kirwin recommended treating them like a light at an intersection. He said green means the water is safe. Yellow means go in with caution and red means stop. He said if you see red flags the best thing to do is stay out of the water.

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