Posted by: Surfboard King | May 24, 2011


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Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water that are prevalent along the East, Gulf, and West coasts of the United States.

Moving up to the speed of eight feet per second, rip currents can move faster than any human can swim.

Typically, the strongest part of a rip current is the direct line heading perpendicular to the shore, but the current can also pull in water from either side of the basin at the current’s origin. As a result rip currents may pull you sideways, parallel to the shore, before pulling you out to sea.

A severe rip tide may be visible from the beach. The strong rip current will disrupt incoming waves an often stirs up sand from the ocean floor. Before entering the water, keep your eye out for narrow, muddy channels in the water where there aren’t any waves breaking.

What should I do if I’m caught in a rip current?

If you get caught up in a rip current, the first thing to remember is STAY CALM. Your first instinct may be to swim against the current directly back to shore. In most cases, even if you’re an elite swimmer, this will only fatigue you. The current is too strong to fight head-on and those who panic and swim against the current may drown.

INSTEAD, swim sideways parallel to the shore. This will get you out of the narrow rip current channel so you can swim to the shore using the waves.

If you are too fatigued or the current is just too strong to swim sideways while you’re being dragged through the water, stay calm and wait until the current carries you past the sandbar. The water there will be much calmer, and you can begin to swim your way back into the waves.

 Quick Tips:

1. Never go to the beach alone.

2. Stick to shallow waters if possible.

3. Stay calm.

4. Swim sideways.

5. Use the waves to help take you into shore.

6. If you can’t swim all the way back in yell for help and wave your arms.

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