TIPS TO RECOGNIZING & SURVIVING RIP CURRENTS: READ THIS BEFORE YOUR NEXT TRIP TO THE BEACH
In recognition of Rip Current Awareness Week – a nationally recognized ocean safety campaign aimed at educating the public about rip currents – the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC) in partnership with other organizations has released key information everyone should read before their next trip to the beach.
RIP CURRENTS (OR TIDES) 101:
Rip currents are strong narrow currents moving away from shore. They form as waves travel from deep to shallow water. They are most likely to be dangerous during high surf conditions as the wave height and wave period increase and can occur at any beach with breaking waves.
The strongest rip currents attain speeds reaching eight feet per second. More people die from rip currents (approximately 100) than from shark attacks or lightning. According to the US Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents.
The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC) manages New Jersey’s most comprehensive rip current awareness program, which includes metal signage in English and Spanish at most every Jersey Shore beach warning swimmers about the danger of rip currents and illustrating how to survive being caught in one.
The greatest rip current safety precaution is to recognize their extreme danger and always swim at beaches with lifeguards.
IDENTIFYING RIP CURRENTS:
Four clues to always be on the lookout for at the beach…
- Channel of churning, choppy water
- Area having a notable difference in water color
- Line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
- Break in incoming wave pattern
SURVIVING RIP CURRENTS:
Five lifesaving tips every beach lover should know…
- 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 even if that means momentarily floating away from the shoreline. 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 9-1-1 . Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape.
For more rip current information, visit NJSeaGrant.org. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. For The Coaster and TheBPlot’s coverage of the NJ Sea Grant’s rip current safety campaign last year, click here.
Tips courtesy of NJSGC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the National Sea Grant Program, the United States Lifesaving Association, and the National Park Service.