I was reading local news last night and in the LA Times, they were talking about how big waves and high tides are bringing hazardous conditions to Southern California beaches.

It’s not just SoCal where swimmers have to worry about hazardous conditions like rip currents. It’s all over the world, and according to Weather.gov, “Typically, they form at breaks in sandbars, and also near structures, such as jetties and piers, as well as cliffs that jut into the water. Rip currents are common and can be found on most surf beaches, including the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.”

RELATED: Don’t Do This When You’re Swimming

FYI: “Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches.” What caught my attention was an ABC News 7 piece in which a lifeguard was interviewed and he said he’s rescued all kinds of people, including an Olympic water polo player. He said it doesn’t matter if you’re are phenomenal swimmer or how fast you are. Getting caught in a current is like swimming up a river.

image via weather.gov

Here’s How to Survive a Rip Current
Weather.gov offers helpful information to help swimmers survive a rip current. If you ever find yourself in this scary and dangerous situation, here’s what they say to do:

-Relax. Rip currents don’t pull you under.
-A rip current is a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer. Trying to swim against a rip current will only use up your energy; energy you need to survive and escape the rip current.
-Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
-If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out!
-If at all possible, only swim at beaches with lifeguards.
-If you choose to swim on beaches without a lifeguard, never swim alone. Take a friend and have that person take a cell phone so that person can call 911 for help.

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2 Comments On "How To Survive a Rip Current"
  1. thepixinator|

    This is a very valuable tip. At a time of year when people go to the beach for relaxation, they may not be thinking Safety. I’ve been caught in strong currents and they are not fun, but the advice is correct. Stay calm, swim to the side instead of trying to head straight to shore, and you’ll be alright. Don’t be embarrassed to call out for help. Lifeguards may not be aware of all of that day’s currents, and your request for help might prompt them to raise a black flag that saves someone else that day.

    I would also add to be careful of hydraulics and eddies when swimming in “blue holes,” those deep pools that form in rivers, especially in the mountains, that can suck you under and never spit you back out. If you don’t know how to swim well, don’t assume that just because it looks like a lazy river that there’s not swirling water below the surface, and also lots of rocks.

    And lastly I would add that you should ALWAYS determine the depth of any water you jump or dive into by swimming under and looking for yourself, especially dark water in rivers and ocean pools. Don’t just grab last year’s swing rope and launch yourself in the water without testing it to see if it’s at least 12 feet deep, to keep from breaking your spine. I went to college with someone who will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life because he dove into shallow water. He was an experienced cliff diver, and knew better, which just goes to show complacency can happen to anyone around water. Think!

  2. justinmorision|

    Rip currents are the most important surf danger for all beach goers. Rip current speeds are usually 1-2 feet per second. Though, speeds as high as 8 feet per second have been measured. Rip currents can occur at any surf beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes.

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