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Saturday, December 16 2017 @ 12:37 PM CST

Rip currents: Know what to do if you get caught up in one?

Stay Safe! Read the surf forecast BEFORE you head to the beach. Don't panic! If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore. When the current weakens, swim at an angle back to shore. If a red flag is flying at the beach it means that there is high surf or strong currents. No swimming is allowed. Never swim alone.  


The water looks ready for a swim, but there may be a danger awaiting those who enter. This potentially deadly force is the number one safety threat at beaches – it’s called a rip current.

Rip currents are fast, powerful channels of water flowing away from the beach and out past the breaking waves. Before you realize it, you can get dragged out far from the shore.



Rip currents can be really hard to spot, so exercise caution if you see the following:

  • a channel of churning, choppy water;
  • an area with a noticeable difference in color;
  • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily out to sea; and/or
  • a break in the incoming wave pattern.

If you get caught in one –

  • Stay calm, don’t fight the current. 
  • Swim sideways out of the current and parallel to the shore, then at an angle back to the shore.

If you can’t escape it –

  • float or calmly tread water. The rip current will eventually fade.
  • Try to face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

If you see someone caught in a rip current, do not try to rescue them yourself. Instead,

  • get a lifeguard or call 911,
  • yell instructions,
  • and if possible, throw a life preserver or floatation device.

These things may help you save a life.

The ocean can be a source of fun and excitement, but you should always be careful of hazards that exist. Only swim at lifeguard protected beaches.

Before your next trip to the beach, know how to spot a rip current and how to break the grip of the rip.


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