A rip tide, or rip current, can quickly pull you out to sea. Follow beach safety standards and know what to do if you get caught in one.
What is a rip tide?
It’s not really a tide, which is the normal rise and fall of sea levels during the course of a day. The proper name is rip current, which is a powerful current of water moving away from the shore. Even in knee deep water, these currents are strong enough to knock you off your feet and carry you out to sea in seconds.
Rip currents are most prevalent after a storm, but it doesn’t have to be a stormy on the beach. Sometimes tropical storms or hurricanes far out in the gulf can create shoreline water conditions that cause a rip current to form, often in sandbar breaks near the shore.
Although rarely more than 30 feet wide, a rip current can extend as far as 1000 feet off shore. It can travel as fast as 3 miles per hour, which doesn’t sound like a much, but with the force of the water behind it, it can easily knock down a child and many adults.
What to do if you are caught in a rip current
SWIM PARALLEL TO THE SHORELINE!
Remember it is only about 30 feet or so wide, so by swimming perpendicular to the flow, you will swim out. If it is too strong to swim, relax and float until you can start swimming, always parallel to the beach.
How to identify a rip current
Remember, even if you are a strong swimmer, a rip tide or rip current can pull you out to sea, even from only knee deep water. The current is very strong.
Don’t put yourself or others who might try to help you in danger by going in the water where there is a rip current or if there is a double red flag.
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