Rip Current Awareness Week

Life Gaurds

It’s Rip Current Awareness Week and the American Red Cross has tips to help keep swimmers safe from rip currents when visiting the beach this summer.

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore and can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes. They are particularly dangerous for weak or non-swimmers, but rip currents have the potential to pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea under the right conditions.

The Red Cross advises anyone taking a trip to the beach this summer to swim on lifeguard-protected beaches if possible, within the designated swimming areas. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for more than 80 percent of rescues performed by beach lifeguards.

If caught in a rip current, 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 toward 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.
  • Take a minute to watch the video: How to Survive a Rip Current.

    Rip Current Awareness Week arrives alongside hurricane season and it is important to remember that storms increase the risk of dangerous surf conditions. Even storms that don’t reach shore can cause strong rip currents along the beach posing dangers for swimmers. While enjoying the shore, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. The National Weather Service provides rip current forecasts. If a storm approaches, get out of the water and off the beach.

    If you see someone in trouble, follow the Chain of Drowning Survival. Get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats, such as a lifejacket, cooler or 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 during your shore trip, review Red Cross Beach Safety Tips.