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Rip current literacy of beachgoers at Miami Beach, Florida

Kathleen M. Fallon (), Qing Lai and Stephen P. Leatherman
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Kathleen M. Fallon: Florida International University
Qing Lai: Florida International University
Stephen P. Leatherman: Florida International University

Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, 2018, vol. 90, issue 2, 601-621

Abstract: Abstract Rip currents are fast moving, offshore flows that have the ability to move even the strongest swimmers into deeper waters. Miami Beach, Florida is one of the most visited beaches in the USA and a sought after destination for citizens and international tourists alike. It is also known to be a rip current “hot spot.” These factors greatly increase the risk of drowning; however, no previous research has focused on beachgoer perception of rip-related risks in South Florida. Over a 12-month period, 203 public surveys were collected to determine the rip current knowledge of beachgoers at Miami Beach based on factors such as swimming ability and frequency of beach visits. The responses were analyzed by constructing a normalized component factor to determine the respondent’s comprehensive knowledge of rips, and multiple regression models were used to assess the net influences of sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics on the responses. A significant proportion of the survey respondents showed insufficient knowledge, indicating they are at risk of drowning in a rip current. Frequent beachgoer’s exposure to the beach environment, maturation, and nativity is identified as the main contributors to knowledge net of other sociodemographic compositions. The most at-risk groups were determined to be young adults, foreign tourists, poor swimmers, and those who infrequently visited the beach. Miami Beach needs to initiate a rip current safety campaign to target these at-risk beachgoers, where interventions beyond familial and educational institutions should be introduced.

Keywords: Rip currents; Public survey; Beach safety; South Florida (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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