Rip currents are narrow, channeled water currents flowing away from the shore at surf beaches. They are commonly formed at low spots or breaks in sandbars and also neat structures such as piers and jetties.
Identifying a rip current is not always easy for the common beachgoer. The clues listed below may not always indicate the presence of rip currents, but you should be aware of this surf zone hazard for your safety. The clues are as follows:
- A break in the incoming wave pattern- Rip currents are often found in areas where waves are NOT breaking. The flat water is located between breaking waves is actually a rip current flowing away from the beach out to sea.
- A color change in a particular area-The water is often darker in a rip current. White foam is present where waves are breaking and there are no rip currents.
- Water movement- Look for a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving away from the beach.
If You Are Caught in a Rip Current
Don’t panic. Be calm and begin to swim parallel to the shoreline. When out of the current, swim to the shore. If you can’t swim out of the current, float or tread water. Face the shore, wave your hands and yell for help if it is impossible for you to reach the shore. Remember to remain calm.