Coast Guard Issues Warning on Rip Currents

Coast Guard Issues Warning on Rip Currents
Rip Current, photo/NOAA

The Coast Guard is reminding beachgoers to be aware and be ready for the threat of rip currents. Knowing what rip currents are and where they form is the first step to staying safe in the water.

Coast Guard Issues Warning on Rip Currents
NOAA Rip Current Safety Instructions

Rip currents are strong, narrow currents moving away from shore near low spots or breaks in sandbars and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. They are dangerous during high surf conditions as the wave height and wave period increase. Rip currents can drag swimmers up to hundreds of yards away from the beach and cause them to drown from exhaustion. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents account for 80 percent of all water rescues on surf beaches and cause approximately 100 deaths annually in the U.S.

Here are some tips on how to avoid and survive rip currents:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
  • If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, call 911. Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
  • Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
  • Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
  • Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

For more information on rip currents, visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov