If in doubt, don’t go out! Rip Currents are Dangerous

rip-current- break the grip of ripIt’s beach season and my kids are getting braver with their newly acquired swimming skills but it also made me realize that with their increased water skills and confidence comes increased risks as they venture further into the water and so we’ve been on a but of a mission to learn more about the importance of learning to “read” the ocean in particular the often misnamed rip current (not rip tide).

Why Rip Currents are Dangerous

Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beach   goers. They are particularly dangerous for weaker or non-swimmers. Rip current speeds are surprisingly fast, typically 1-2 feet per second however, speeds as high as 8 feet per second have been measured–this is faster than Usain Bolt can sprint! So beware rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Over 100 drownings are due to rip currents every year in the United States and more than 80% of water rescues on beaches are due to rip currents.

Rip currents can occur at any surf beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes

How to Identify Rip Currents
Rip currents are often not easy to identify, But it’s vital to be aware of this serious beach hazard. Look for any of the following clues:ripcurrent2

  • channel of churning, choppy water
  • an area having a notable difference in water color
  • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
  • a break in the incoming wave pattern

Tip: Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues provided above.rip current 3

 Note – rip currents are changeable and can form at any given time. Lifeguards will often post flags to alert swimmers of the risk of rip currents at a beach, but the currents can come and go without any warning.

Learn how to swim! 

  • Never swim alone, If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches
  • 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 shore.
  • 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.rip current
  • If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1 . Throw the rip current 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.

IMPORTANT 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.

For more info check out NOAA, National Weather Service


50+UPF Sunny Sleevez


About sunnysleevez

I'm a freckly red head, originally from London now living in LA with 2 pale children. Frankly with our coloring we have no business being such an outdoorsy family and living in southern California. I grew up in a time when factor 8 sun milk was considered the best protection available to combat the hot rays of a holiday in southern Spain, that lead to 3rd degree burns and the rest of the vacation spent in the shade of our apartment. As a family we love to be outside, going to the beach, camping, swimming & hiking. We can't completely avoid the sun (nor should we) but taking sensible measures to avoid unnecessary UV damage is a priority. How do we do that? By staying in the shade in the middle of the day, wearing sun protective clothing (that's why I created Sunny Sleevez), a broad brimmed hat, UV rated sunglasses, using chemical-free broad spectrum sun screen on exposed areas & eating a healthy diet with as few chemicals as possible & lots of antioxidants.
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6 Responses to If in doubt, don’t go out! Rip Currents are Dangerous

  1. Elephant says:

    SWIM SIDEWAYS parallel to the beach!

  2. eggroll1024 says:

    Wow, this blog is great! I don’t think I’ve seen more useful information about protecting ourselves from the elements than I have on here. Thanks for posting!

    Also, thank you for following my blog! I hope you find it interesting and/or helpful. 😀

  3. tukusigal says:

    I see the same signs on many Lake Michigan beaches. This is a great post. Thank you. I would like to reblog this post.

  4. tukusigal says:

    Reblogged this on ミシガン再発見の旅 See more Michigan – 口コミ情報発信ブログ and commented:
    Great post! I wrote a few posts about rip currents in Lake Michigan. Your post will be a great addition to my blog. Thanks

  5. Benjamin 0 says:

    Yesterday I adored the children’s book “Riptide Windjammer”, on mediailove.com, the article needed more supporting information in regards to riptide dynamics. I put a link in a second ago to this article, let me know if you want it removed.

    Thanks for giving me attention on smilove! I appreciate it very much, as it’s just gettting started, and I’m excited to see what it becomes 🙂 Have a peachy day!

  6. MzDezy says:

    That’s very scary! I’ve heard of rip currents before and was aware of how they worked….but I’ve never seen photos or knew the speeds that the currents could move. I’ll def be more careful while swimming!

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