One of the most dangerous parts of swimming in the ocean is the threat of rip currents. Rip currents are powerful, channel currents of water flowing away from shore and according to the United States Lifesaving Association, over 100 people drown each year from rip currents. Below are tips on what to do if you or someone else is caught in a rip current.
Escaping a Rip Current
- If caught in a rip current, always stay calm and don’t fight the current.
- Escape the current by swimming horizontal to the shoreline, not toward the shore. Once free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
- If you are unable to escape by swimming horizontal to the shoreline, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore.
- Always try to get someone else’s attention if caught in a rip current. You may not be able to escape the current yourself but someone else’s help could save your life.
How to Help Someone Else in a Rip Current
- Get help from a lifeguard if one is present.
- If you aren’t near a lifeguard, yell instructions on how to escape from the shore.
- Throw the victim something that floats.
- Call 9-1-1 for further assistance.
General Safety Tips
- Swim near a lifeguard at all times if possible. Lifeguards are trained to help you and are responsible for countless saved lives.
- Know how to swim in the ocean. Swimming in the pool or in a lake is very different than swimming in the ocean.
- Be cautious at all times and always be aware of your surroundings.
- If in doubt about current ocean conditions, don’t go out!
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