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Rip current survival tips

Posted July 31, 2014

Rip Current Awareness sticker from NOAA and the U.S. Lifesaving Association.

The following information on identifying and avoiding rip currents is from the U.S. Lifesaving Association:

Identifying rip currents

Look for a channel of churning, choppy water, an area having a notable difference in water color, a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward or a break in the incoming wave pattern. Any of these situations could indicate the presence of rip currents.

Rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the average beachgoer. Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues.

Avoiding and surviving rip currents

  • Never swim alone.
  • Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach, and 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.
  • If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 911 . Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
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