Rip Currents Rip Current Myths
Rip Current Myth
According to the National Weather Service, a rip current
is a horizontal current. Rip currents do not pull people under the water--they
pull people away from shore. Drowning deaths occur when people pulled offshore
are unable to keep themselves afloat and swim to shore. This may be due to any
combination of fear, panic, exhaustion, or lack of swimming skills.
How to look for a rip current:
- a channel of churning, choppy water
- an area having a notable difference in water color
(which may be brown due to sand and sediment from the ocean bottom being
- a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily
- a break in the incoming wave pattern (waves
meeting from two different directions)
- Rip currents are often not easily identifiable to the
- Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues
How to Avoid and Survive Rip Currents
Learn how to swim!
- Never swim alone.
- Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at
unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don't go out! • Whenever possible, swim at a
lifeguard protected beach.
- Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
- If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve
energy and think clearly.
- Don't fight the current. Swim out of the current in a
direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current,
float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw
attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
- If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a
lifeguard is not available, have someone call 911. If you are close enough, and
have something that floats, throw the victim something that floats and yell
instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save
someone else from a rip current.
SOURCE: NOAA.gov. Rip Current Safety.Last Editorial Review: 6/30/2011