How to Avoid Getting Caught in a Rip Current

Heading to the Beach?

Sun and Sand are fun, waves are amusing, and rip currents are deadly.

Rips are fast-moving currents of water that can pull even the strongest swimmer away from the shore. According to the USLA, rip currents account for at least 100 deaths each year at U.S. surf beaches.

The warning signs and other educational materials and activities, including National Weather Service surf zone forecasts are part of the decade-long “Break the Grip of the Rip” public awareness campaign by USLA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  • Check water conditions before going in by looking at the local beach forecast before you leave for the beach and talking to the lifeguard at the beach.
  • Only swim at a beach with lifeguards. The chances of drowning at a beach with lifeguards are 1 in 18 million (U.S. Lifesaving Association).
  • Don't assume! Great weather for the beach does not always mean it's safe to swim or even play in the shallows. Rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.
  • Learn how to spot a rip current. The Break the Grip of the Rip free online training will help you learn how to spot a rip current.
  • Rip currents aren't the only deadly beach hazard. Learn more about dangerous waves and other hazards and why you should never to turn your back on the ocean.

Nine Dangers at the Beach – Rip Currents | Shorebreak | Lightning | Tsunamis | Sharks | Jellyfish | Heat and Sunburn | Harmful Algal Blooms | Water Quality

The signs are illustrations designed to instruct people how to escape from a rip current if they become trapped in one, and show the rip from a bird’s-eye view rather than the perspective of someone on the beach.

What are scientists doing to keep swimmers safer? Find out in this video: Predict the Rip:

Rip-Vid

Texas A&M has put a lot of thought into saving lives from rips. You can help their efforts by participating in their new Sea Grant online survey about rip currents. Your help could someday save a life. The survey is available here.

Rip Currents Claim At Least 100 Lives Each Year Rip Currents Claim At Least 100 Lives Each Year

The survey is designed to determine the public’s knowledge about rip currents and the effectiveness of the current warning signs in use at surf beaches around the country. It was developed by Chris Houser of Texas A&M University and Rob Brander of the University of New South Wales with support from the Texas Sea Grant College Program.

Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes, and most often form at low spots or breaks in sandbars and near structures like piers, jetties and groins. According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association (USLA), more than 80 percent of the surf beach rescues performed by lifeguards each year involve rip currents.

They are not always easy to identify, but signs of rip currents include a break in the pattern of incoming waves; a channel of churning, choppy water; an area with a noticeably different water color; and a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward.

“The results of this survey will be used to determine whether our current efforts are visible, memorable and can be understood by beach users, or whether we need to rethink how to warn beach users of the rip danger before they enter the water. We hope that this information will help reduce the number of fatalities involving rip currents,” said Houser, associate professor of geography and associate dean for undergraduate affairs in Texas A&M’s College of Geosciences.

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