Many people are heading to the nation’s beaches to enjoy some time at the shore this summer. The American Red Cross urges awareness of hidden dangers which can be present in the ocean – rip currents – and what to do if caught up in these strong underwater currents.
Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by beach lifeguards. The greatest safety precaution people can take is to know the danger of rip currents, and always swim at beaches with lifeguards. If someone is caught in a rip current, they should remember the following:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never fight against the current.
- Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle - away from the current - toward shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
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 victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball. Yell instructions on how to escape the current. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
For more information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe this summer, visit www.redcross.org.