Rip currents are deadly. Many people have almost died because they don’t know how to escape. Deaths occur before safety rescue can even arrive.
What is it?
Riptides, also known as rip currents, are dangerously strong sea currents that pull you away with ease from the shoreline of a beach. They’re formed by strong winds pushing water towards the shore. Tropical cyclone winds push waves up against the shoreline as seen in this animation even if they’re hundreds of miles away, so rip tide warnings are often the first indication of a nearby hurricane in action. Caught on tape are rips can reach speeds of up to 8 ft. per second, which is faster than any human is capable of swimming.
Where is it located?
As explained rip tides can occur at any beach where there are breaking waves such as oceans, seas, large lakes, and even wavepools. They’re most common on the East & West Coasts of the U.S. as well as the Gulf Coast and in Australia. Rip tide accidents cause 80% of all lifeguard rescues on the beach.
How it will kill you?
The most common victims of rip tide deaths are those with limited water skills and those who panic, even when in shallow water. The first sensation felt once you’re caught in a rip is that of being dragged downwards and away from shore. This causes people to panic and fight against the current, causing them to exhaust themselves and tire from swimming against the flow, ultimately leading to death by drowning.
How to survive?
If you’re caught in a rip, remember the three R’s: relax, raise the alarm, and wait for rescue. It’s extremely crucial that you DO NOT panic. If you can stand, wade and don’t swim. If you can’t reach the ground, save energy by staying afloat, preferably on your back. Raise the alarm by waving your arms or yelling for help. This is especially important for those who don’t how to swim or are starting to feel tired. Those who can swim should swim parallel to shore until they’re free of the rip, then head for shore. Do what you can to stay afloat in order to wait for rescue from a lifeguard or aid to arrive to bring you back to safety.