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6 Tips to Help Swimmers Survive Dangerous Rip Currents

Water Safety

Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by ocean lifeguards. Rip currents can be particularly dangerous during storms, and even hurricanes miles out to sea. The American Red Cross offers the following safety tips to help swimmers survive dangerous rip currents.

1. When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.

2. Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

3. If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current.

4. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.

5. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

6. If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.

If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current. Don’t try to swim out to help them – many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

To learn more about rip currents and beach safety, take a minute to watch this video. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App for lifesaving information at your fingertips including rip current safety.

To find Red Cross swimming and water safety programs for your family, contact your local aquatic facility or go to

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.