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How To Escape A Rip Current

   May 2nd, 2022   Posted In: How-To  

How To Escape A Rip Current

According to the United States Lifesaving Association, approximately 80% of lifeguard rescues are a result of rip currents. Similarly, around 100 people die every year from fighting rip currents. While rip currents themselves do not pull people under, individuals panicking will attempt to swim to shore and exhaust themselves, resulting in drowning. In order to escape a rip current, you need to stay calm, move parallel, and not fight.

What Is A Rip Current

In order to understand how to escape rip currents, you need to be able to understand what rip currents are. Rip currents are fast-moving, strong, narrow channels of water that pull away from the shoreline. Rip currents are different from riptides. Riptides are currents specifically located at the mouths of bays, inlets, estuaries, and harbors. While both are dangerous, riptides are more constant and predictable while rip currents can develop suddenly and erratically. With their strong undertow and fast onset, rip currents can quickly pull people out to sea and even drown swimmers/surfers.

The Danger Of Rip Currents

According to NOAA, strong rip currents can reach a speed of up to 8 feet per second. These strong currents are located close to the shore and typically become less strong the further away from the shore it goes. It is because of these reasons that rip currents are particularly dangerous.

When swimmers, beachgoers, surfers, and more are enjoying themselves, they can quickly become caught up in a rip current and pulled out to sea. Rip currents themselves don’t tend to be the cause of drownings, however, individuals attempting to escape rip currents tend to tire themselves out and drown as a result. In order to escape a rip current, it is important to keep in mind a few important steps.

How To Escape A Rip Current

There are four main things to remember when it comes to how to escape a riptide—remain calm, don’t fight, move parallel, and go with the flow.

When you are being pulled out to sea it can be frightening and panic can quickly set in. In order to ensure you don’t make the situation worse, it is important to remain calm. Work to keep your head above water, lay on your back if need be, and take deep breaths.

The next thing to remember is not to fight. Your instincts will be telling you to fight and try to swim to shore, this can lead to exhaustion and be incredibly dangerous. While fighting the current, many people attempt to swim against the rip current and towards the shore. When you are fighting a rip current, you aren’t going to win. No matter how strong of a swimmer you are, the rip current will win—so don’t fight it. 

If you feel the need to swim toward the shore, move parallel to it instead. By moving parallel to the shore, you will be able to get out of the rip current. Once outside of the current you can move diagonally to reach the shore. 

Finally, if you are not super confident in your swimming abilities, or find yourself exhausted, simply go with the flow. Lay on your back, keep your head above water, and call for help. You will be pulled out into deeper water, but a lifeguard will be able to see you and come get you. Similarly, by letting the rip current pull you out you will be able to escape it much easier. 

Ultimately, in order to escape a rip current, it is important to remain calm and not fight it.

Hannah Brown

Hannah Brown

Hannah lives in Virginia Beach with her two cats and her fiance. She loves to read, write, and binge watches YouTube videos. Her favorite hobbies are tending to her overgrown houseplants and traveling. To contact Hannah please email hannahb2713@gmail.com.
Hannah Brown

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