Rips are essentially ‘rivers’ of current produced by water draining from the beach back out to sea. They develop anywhere you see breaking waves. Often rips move slowly enough to barely be detected, but they can develop into current moving at a speed of up to two metres per second – faster than any of us can possibly swim! They range in size from just a few feet to a couple of hundred metres wide and their pull can be to just outside the breaking waves to over two hundred metres from shore.
Spot the Signs!
Rip currents claim the lives of many people every year. Here’s how to spot them and what to do if you get caught in one.
If You Get Caught!
You are not going to win a fight with the ocean, so if you are caught in a rip current the primary thing to do is to stay calm and relax. You can swim slowly and conservatively parallel to the shoreline or just relax and let it carry you out past the breakers until it slacks.
Contrary to myth – rip currents are not “undertow” and will not pull you under the water. As long as you can tread water or float you will be safe until you escape the flow and head back to the beach. It’s important that when you head back in, to do so at an angle to the shoreline. Again, maintain a slow and relaxed pace until you reach the shore or assistance arrives.