Rip current dangers keep lifeguards on high alert along Gulf Coast beaches

As waves roll in, lifeguards on Siesta Key Beach keep an eye out for those in the water.

For beachgoers, getting their toes in the sand is a treat, but this week brings more danger than the gulf typically presents. Signs warning about rip currents are a must-read for locals and visitors.

Rip currents create a powerful pull under the water as it moves away from shore. Even the strongest swimmers can get caught in one.

"If you’re going to come to a beach, come where we have lifeguards. They’ll educate you. If you do get into a situation, they are there to respond and help you and make sure your beach day is a safe day," said Scott Montgomery, the chief of Sarasota County's Lifeguard Operations Division.

Montgomery said swimmers can still go out in the water; ankle-deep or even thigh-high is OK. Venture further out and you could be caught in a rip current.

If you do, Montgomery says to remember this phrase:

"We like to use the term 'break the grip of the rip' and that’s basically swim to your left or right, you’ll be out of the rip current and you’ll be able to swim safely to shore," said Montgomery.

That's what John and Frances Watkins plan to do.

"You just don’t go too far out. You watch where you’re going to where it doesn't take you one way or the other," said John Watkins.

One way or another, the Watkins don't plan on letting waves crash their beach vacation.

"We are going to find fun wherever we go," said Frances Watkins.