The dangers of rip currents
(WHSV) - While the official summer months are about a month and a half away, many people head to the beach when temperatures get warmer. Rip current are always a factor every year and can be fatal if you get caught up in one.
The United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) “estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our beaches exceeds 100.”
Here is some general info on rip currents and what to do to avoid getting in a dangerous situation in the ocean this summer:
Rip currents flow away from the shoreline meaning they can pull anyone away from shore into deep water and be deadly. Rip currents generally extend from the shoreline all the way past breaking waves. They are located only in areas with breaking waves.
Rip currents actually correlate with waves. Waves break at different strengths in different locations of a beach. This can create a narrow circulation in the water that heads backwards from the shoreline.
It doesn’t matter what strength of a swimmer you are. You can be swept away by a rip current. Non-swimmers or weak swimmers certainly are more prone to the dangers of rip currents but some rip currents can travel faster than Olympic swimmers.
So how can you identify a rip current? Water could be a different shade or pay attention to foam, seaweed, or debris heading out to sea but that can be very hard to identify.
The best way to avoid rip currents is to avoid going into the water during a high risk day. The National Weather Service puts out statements for days of high rip current risks.
Having a lifeguard on the beach is also beneficial. That way at least someone will at least be watching you to make sure you stay safe. Having someone with you in the ocean will also help you stay safe.
If you fear that you might be in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore. As mentioned before, rip currents can be extremely strong and defeat the best of swimmers. Don’t go head-to-head with the current. Moving parallel to the shore will help you get out of the narrow current pulling you out to sea.
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