Deadly Rip Currents: How to Survive
How to Survive a Rip Tide
The dreaded "rip tide" does not have anything to do with tides, so professionals prefer the term "rip current." A rip current is a long, narrow band of water that can pull swimmer away from shore and out to sea in just a few seconds. Rip currents are dangerous, and it's best to learn how to identify and stay out of them. If, however, you get caught in a rip current, the right response gives you a big advantage.
Identify a rip tide.What most people call a rip tide is technically a "rip current": a narrow channel of water rushing from the beach to the sea (or sometimes along the beach). Stay aware of your surroundings and learn the warning signs:
- Avoid channels of water that look different from the surroundings. A rip current can be choppier and foamier, or it can be a quiet gap in the line of breaking waves. It may be a slightly different color than the surrounding water.
- Use special caution close to low tide and in high surf conditions, but be aware rip currents can happen at any time.
Exit shallow water if you feel a rip current.If you feel a strong pull in shallow water, get out. A rip current is difficult to fight once you are chest-deep.If the water is waist-deep or shallower, you can likely walk to shore (or sideways out of the current) if you keep your footing.
Remain calm.If you get caught in a rip current, don't panic: it takes a clear head to escape. Understand that a rip current does not drag you underwater, even if it feels that way when a wave hits you. Rip currents only pull you straight out to sea. Good swimmers are not in immediate danger of drowning unless they exhaust themselves by trying to fight the current.
Call for help if you are a poor swimmer.Rip currents are especially dangerous to people who cannot swim well. If you do not think you will be able to reach the shore, get the attention of a lifeguard or of other beachgoers by waving your arms and yelling for help.
- Trying to rescue someone by swimming into a rip current is very dangerous. People on shore should throw you a floating object to hang onto instead.
Swim parallel to shore to escape the current.Most rip currents are less than 30 feet (9.1 m) wide, though they can reach 100–200 feet (30.5–61.0 m).Instead of trying to swim against the current — which is much stronger than you are — swim parallel to the shore to get out of its path. The rip current will carry you further away from shore as you swim, but don't panic. This is not a foolproof method, but it is a good option for a strong swimmer. If possible, look for these signs before choosing a direction:
- The longshore current, a normal current moving parallel to the beach, is often strong enough to push you back into the rip current if you try to swim against it. Check the direction of the longshore current in advance by asking the lifeguard or observing the angle of waves on the beach.
- Rip currents often form around jetties and other structures perpendicular to the beach. If you are near one of these structures, swim away from it.
- Swim in the direction of the nearest breaking waves. These mark the edge of the rip current.
Conserve energy when necessary.If you are not making any progress by swimming, or if you are getting tired, conserve your energy. or tread water instead of fighting the current. Once you are past the breaking waves, the rip current will slow down and fan out into multiple branches, becoming much weaker.If you do not have the energy to make it back to shore, stay afloat and relax until you are ready to begin. Continue to signal for help if there are people present.
- Most rip currents subside or become weak enough to escape soon after the breaking waves. In extreme cases, a rip current can extend up to 1,000 feet (304.8 m) offshore.
- Recent research suggests that many rip currents eventually circulate back to shore if you can stay afloat for a few minutes. This is still controversial, but it may be your best chance of survival if you are a weak swimmer.
Swim diagonally toward the shore.Once you are out of the current, either because you have swum out the side or the current has carried you to its end, make your way back to shore. Swimming diagonally away from the rip current minimizes the chance that you will enter it again. You may be some distance from shore at this point, so stop and float periodically if you need to rest.
QuestionHow are rip tides created and when do they appear?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRiptides (or Rip currents) are usually formed when water that has come on to shore via breaking waves flows out in one particular concentrated area. Imagine an underwater sand bar with a gap in the middle of it: waves break over the sand bar onto the shore and the water's only means of retreat is to rush out through the gap. This creates the strong force that swimmers cannot fight against. Once the water has passed through the gap in the sand bar, the power of the current diminishes and swimmers are able to swim out of it.Thanks!
QuestionCan a rip current drag me in open sea?Top AnswererRip currents usually last for only 30-40 meters, though they can be up to 200 meters. After that, the water returns to normal and you should be able to swim back to shore. So no, a rip current cannot take you out so far that you can no longer see the shore.Thanks!
QuestionIf a pet get caught in rip current, what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry and get a lifeguard's attention. If there aren't any lifeguards, don't let your pet near ocean currents you think are too strong for him/her. Always test the water before you let your pet in.Thanks!
QuestionIf I can't get out of the rip current, what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTread water and conserve energy until you reach the end (usually no more than 30-40 meters from the shore), then swim diagonally back to shore.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I avoid a riptide?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you're at a public beach with lifeguards, there are usually warning if there have been rip currents occurring that day. You can also ask the lifeguard on duty if there have been any riptides reported that day.Thanks!
QuestionDo rip tides only occur on sand beaches?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Riptides can occur anywhere that has a lot of water. They can happen at large lakes, dams or rivers.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I am at a lake with a small child?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRiptides don't tend to occur at small lake, only in lakes large enough to be like an inland sea. If you are with a small child and they get caught in one, take a float into the riptide and go in to save them using your own swimming knowledge from this article.Thanks!
QuestionCan a kid do the same steps?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, these steps apply to anyone stuck in a riptide.Thanks!
QuestionIf I get caught in a riptide, should I go under the water to break free?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Your first and best option is to dig your feet into the sea floor (along with attracting help); removing your feet from the sand will only make you easier to carry away.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if there is a shark with me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSharks don't usually attack humans. It commonly occurs as mistaken identity when the shark mistakes you for another animal. Stay still as possible and don't splash in the water.Thanks!
- Despite the common name "undertow," rip currents drag people out to sea, but they don't drag them underwater. In fact, there is no type of current that drags you underwater from the beach. A series of waves hitting you near shore can make you feel like you are submerging, but you do not need to struggle upward. Concentrate on staying afloat or regaining your footing.
- Never swim alone.
- Don't be ashamed to ask for help. If you are uncertain how to react while in a rip current and a beach lifeguard is nearby, wave at them. Beach lifeguards have experience and training with rip currents and are there to help you out.
- Rip currents deserve respect, but they aren't a death sentence. Lifeguards sometimes intentionally swim in them to quickly reach someone beyond the surf, and surfers find them useful to easily get out to catch waves. Lifeguards and surfers, of course, are very proficient swimmers and have experience swimming in surf conditions, so most of us shouldn't intentionally enter a rip current. That said, if you do get caught in one, remain calm.
- Technically, the term "rip tide" refers to a similar rapid, narrow current out to sea that happens at low tide. This is much more powerful than a rip current, but only happens in inlets or other narrow channels of water. These areas are off-limits to swimmers due to this danger.
- Before heading out into the water, check for the latest beach condition updates. A quick internet search on a mobile device for the weather in the area of the beach will provide any warnings about observed rip currents, high likelihood of rip current formation, high wave warnings, strong wind/wave warnings, and structural current hazards.
- Some rip currents travel parallel to the beach instead of the typical direction straight out to sea. Watch the beach to discover which way you are traveling.
- Never swim against the current. Itwillbe stronger than you, and it will exhaust you, which could make you drown.
- Stay out of rip currents if possible. Heed all warning signs and flags. When traveling, always make sure there are others swimming at the same beach as you. If not, it may be known to the locals as a dangerous beach.
- Even if the current circulates back to shore, it can "spit you out" on the ocean side, or keep you in the current for multiple circuits.If you are trying the "float and wait" approach, be ready to attempt an exit (perpendicular to the current) once you are near shore. Try to regain your footing once you are in shallow water.
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Later that month, she went for a more casual look at the Halloween Horror Nights 2019 at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles
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