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Readers ask: What is a rip current?

What is a rip current and why is it dangerous?

Rip currents occur in bodies of water with breaking waves; they are channels of water that flow at a faster pace than the surrounding area. Swimmers who are caught in rip currents can get sucked away at speeds of up to 8 feet per second, far too fast for many swimmers to make it safely back to shore.

Do rip currents pull you underwater?

Myth: Rip currents pull you under water.



In fact, rip currents carry people away from the shore. Rip currents are surface currents, not undertows. But while rip currents can move fast, they won’t take you far off shore. If you find yourself floating away from shore, try to relax, float, and wave for help.

How do you get out of a rip current?

swim parallel. The best way to survive a rip current is to stay afloat and yell for help. You can also swim parallel to the shore to escape the rip current. This will allow more time for you to be rescued or for you to swim back to shore once the current eases.

How far can a rip current take you?

A swimmer can also let the current carry him or her out to sea until the force weakens, because rip currents stay close to shore and usually dissipate just beyond the line of breaking waves. Occasionally, however, a rip current can push someone hundreds of yards offshore.

What are the 4 types of rip currents?

Each category is further divided into two types owing to different physical driving mechanisms for a total of six fundamentally different rip current types: hydrodynamically-controlled (1) shear instability rips and (2) flash rips, which are transient in both time and space and occur on alongshore-uniform beaches;

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Where are the worst rip currents?

Monastery Beach, California



The combination of freak waves that break on the shore, strong rip currents, and a deadly undercurrent caused by a sharp drop-off in the shoreline all make this beach one of the most deadly places to swim in the country.

Can Rip currents kill you?

The U.S. Lifeguard Association estimates that nearly 100 people die in rip currents each year, and that lifeguards saved over 48,000 people from rips in 2015 alone. The typical victim is like Crawley: he or she struggles against the unrelenting pull, panics, and eventually succumbs to exhaustion.

What a rip current looks like?

Rip currents often look somewhat like a road or river running straight out to sea, and they are easiest to notice and identify when the zone of breaking waves is viewed from a high vantage point. It is sometimes possible to see that foam or floating debris on the surface of the rip is moving out, away from the shore.

What happens when you get caught in a rip current?

Even strong swimmers can get into trouble if they get caught in a rip current. At speeds of up to eight feet per second, the currents can move faster than an Olympic swimmer, according to NOAA. If it happens to you, yell for help and try not to panic. “If able, swim in a direction following the shoreline.”

What is the difference between rip current and riptide?

Rip current speeds are typically 2 to 3 feet per second and extend about 200 feet offshore. RIPTIDES A riptide (or rip tide) is a powerful current caused by the tide pulling water through an inlet along a barrier beach. Riptides also occur in constricted areas in bays and lagoons where there are no waves.

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Will a life jacket save you in a rip current?

Get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 911. Throw the rip current victim something that floats – a life jacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Why is a riptide dangerous?

This may be due to any combination of fear, panic, exhaustion, or lack of swimming skills. Rip currents are the greatest surf zone hazard to all beachgoers. They can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Rip currents are particularly dangerous for weak and non-swimmers.

How do you survive an undertow?

Always swim with an adult who can help you or call for help in case of an emergency. If you are dragged in by an undertow, you must stay calm in order to resist the process. Don’t wear yourself out swimming against the current. The most important thing is to stay afloat.

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