Things You Should Know About Rip Tides and Currents

For those planning a vacation to the beach this summer it is important to realize the dangers of rip currents before going into the ocean. The following are important things you should know about rip tides and rip currents before going in the ocean. This year Rip Tide Awareness Week runs from June 4-10, 2018.

Following is information about rip tides and currents from the NOAA website. Educate yourself now about what to do if you or a family member finds yourself caught up in a rip current so you’ll be able to get yourself or others out of it.
Things You Should Know About Rip Tides

Rip tides and currents are powerful currents of water that are moving away from shore in a forceful manner. They are the greatest surf hazard for all beachgoers of all levels, especially for non-swimmers. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are due to rip currents. More than 100 people die every year from drowning when they get caught up in a rip current and are unable to free themselves.

Rip tides and currents occur when waves break near the shoreline, piling up water between the breaking waves at the beach. One of the ways this water returns to sea is to form a narrow jet of water that moves swiftly offshore, roughly perpendicular to the shoreline. This is called a rip tide or rip current.

Under most tide and sea conditions the speeds are relatively slow, however when wave, tide and beach conditions align, the speeds can quickly increase to become dangerous to anyone entering the surf, even the most experienced swimmers.

Rip currents can be very narrow or extend in widths to hundreds of yards. The outward pull of rip currents varies from just beyond the line of breaking waves to hundreds of yards offshore.

Some of the clues you can use to identify rip currents include:
– a channel of churning or choppy water,
– an area having a notable difference in water color,
– a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward,
– or a break in the incoming wave pattern.

Rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the occasional vacationer. If you are concerned about the possibilities of rip currents occurring in the surf, it is best to ask a lifeguard before entering the water.

If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm, conserve energy and think clearly. Never fight against the current. Swim or move yourself in a direction parallel to the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle away from the current and toward the shore. If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore. If you are unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arms and calling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don’t become a victim yourself. Many people drown each summer while trying to save someone else from a rip current. Get help from a lifeguard if one is available. If not, have someone call 911. Throw the rip current victim something that floats such as a life jacket, cooler or inflatable ball.

It is important to note that rip currents can occur under any conditions and beachgoers should know how to swim and listen to the advice of beach patrol before entering the surf. When areas of rip currents are marked with signs, respect the signage and avoid the area.

 

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