Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore and can occur at any beach with breaking waves. They can form in any large open water area, such as low spots, breaks in sandbars and near structures such as jetties and piers. Rip currents are dangerous for everyone – even the strongest swimmers can be pulled away from shore.
The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation’s beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for more than 80 percent of rescues performed by beach lifeguards.
If caught in a rip current, remember the following:
- Stay calm and don’t fight the current.
- Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
- If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- If you feel you can’t make it in to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help
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