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How to Spot a Rip Current

by Drew Namdets

If you are one of the many individuals who love spending time at the beach, then it is very important to know more about beach safety. If you do any activities near the water than you should really fully comprehend beach safety and how rip currents work to make sure you remain out of harm's way while enjoying the sea. Rip currents can pose can a danger and if you do not know much about them they can result in injury or even death to swimmers. The sea has a very strong current and within a 24 hour period there are two high tides as well as two low tides. Keeping track of the tides and understanding how they function is especially imperative if you surf.

A rip current is extremely powerful water current that runs towards the sea from the shore, and will generally include the surf line. These currents are very rapid and can mount speeds of eight feet per second. They can occur at any beach and there is not any particular area or time that they will come about, and this is why it is imperative to exercise beach safety at all times. Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers below the water in mere seconds, and will pull you away from the beach making it hard to swim back to shore. This could lead to death from drowning because you will soon become tired from trying to swim to shore.

Rip currents happen frequently at most beaches and swimmers should always be cautious when in the water. You may be surprised to know that even if you are standing in water that is waist deep you are at as much risk as someone who is in deeper water. Surfers on the other hand use the rip current to their advantage to push themselves past the breakers. If you know how the currents function, then this can be of great help to you. Respect the power of the sea and learn some easy beach safety tips and make sure you are always swimming where lifeguards can see you as they make sure that beach safety is of the up most importance. Doing the right things if you are stuck in a rip tide is always extremely important. Knowing what to do can save your life, and therefore some simple knowledge of rip currents can help.

These currents develop when there is wind which pushes the water towards the shore. The water tries to find a place to go and this results in what is known as a rip current. It is a popular belief that the current beneath the water is the most powerful, however this is not true and most of the time it is the surface water that has the worst current. Surf conditions have powerful rip currents and they are frequently stronger than the surf, and when it is windy then it is almost a sure thing that there will be a rip current. Watching the angles of the waves will aid you in determining if there will be a rip current.

At times rip currents can be difficult to identify and despite them being hard to see, you may be fortunate to recognize the signs. Watch for a channel of churning water, it will be choppy and the ocean will be a different color in that spot. You will also see that the water will be heading out to sea and not into the shoreline and it will drag all sorts of sea garbage with it. If you do get stuck in a rip current you should calm yourself. Your first instinct may be to try and swim to shore, however this will be very hard and till require all of your strength to try and swim against the rip current. Rips are more powerful than any swimmer, so doing this will not work.

You must attempt to swim parallel to the shore, until you have passed the rip current, and once you have done that you will then be able to swim back to shore. If you get tired then you can tread water and float as the tide will pull you back in to shore. If you stay calm when stuck in a rip tide then you can often swim your way out. These currents will not drag you under, but they will pull you further out to sea where you will be terrified and soon tire out. If you use common sense when out at the beach, and you know much about beach safety, then you will be able to see the signs if a strong rip current was to come about. If you decide to swim knowing this, then make sure you know about all the risks and how to get yourself out of a potentially dangerous situation if one should arise.


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