Rip currents are strong and often very localized currents can carry unsuspecting swimmers out to sea. The currents usually move at 1 to 2 feet per second, but stronger ones can pull at 8 feet per second.
Learn how to spot a rip current. Look for:
- A channel of choppy water.
- An area with a different color than the rest of the water, often gray or brownish in color.
- A line of foam, seaweed or debris that’s moving out to sea.
- A break in the incoming waves.
Always try to avoid rip currents by following these safety precautions:
- Swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
- Talk to the lifeguard on duty about ocean conditions for the day.
- Learn how to float before you venture ankle-deep into the ocean.
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, it is important to remaining calm and conserve energy. If swimming doesn’t seem to be working for you, attempt floating or treading water and try to get the attention of someone on shore, hopefully a lifeguard.
And if you see someone who is caught in a rip current, don’t become a victim yourself.
- Get help from a lifeguard.
- If a lifeguard isn’t available, call 911.
- Don’t try to rescue the person yourself unless it’s the last resort and you have a raft, body board or life preserver with you.
- If you are, throw the person a floatable device like a lifejacket or inflatable tube.
Understanding the dynamics of rip currents and taking the recommended precautions, can keep you safe while enjoying our beautiful beaches this summer.