Across the country, the sun is finally out! Winter is melting away and people are starting to consider heading back to the beach. As long as we’re all taking proper safety COVID-19 precautions, that is great news. Pandemic aside, we shouldn’t forget that the beach can be quite dangerous on a regular basis. Today, let’s talk about what to do if you are caught in a rip tide.
What is a Rip Tide?
Chances are, if you have spent any time on the open water, you may have had some brief encounters with a rip tide or rip current. Basically a rip tide is a long
, narrow band of water that pulls away from the shore.
These bands of water may not be immediately apparent to a swimmer, but therein lies the danger. When caught in a rip tide, a swimmer can be unexpectedly pulled out to sea. Obviously, this sudden change in direction and destination is both scary and dangerous.
Stay Calm to Survive Being Caught in a Rip Tide
For the rest of this article, let’s discuss what to do in order to escape being caught in a rip tide. Now, first of all, the biggest key is to stay calm.
As in all drowning danger situations, panic is not a swimmer’s friend. Far from it! Instead, losing control can lead to mistakes and exhaustion.
Spotting a Possible Rip Tide
The best way to avoid danger is to only swim in designated areas that are protected by a lifeguard
. Additionally, bring along a buddy. Swimming alone is never a good idea. It is always better to have someone nearby in case of trouble. This, paired with being in an area that has a trained lifeguard, is always the best possible choice.
When it comes to beach safety
, always keep on the lookout for possible rip tides. To do this, look for a narrow gap of darker water. These are usually visible between areas of breaking waves. The difference in water color is a powerful clue. Another thing to look out for is a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving out to sea.
Check the forecast, and also observe the water. As you become more experienced, you’ll become more familiar with how to recognize rip currents, dangerous tides and other telltale signs of potential incoming danger.
Again though, the best defense will be other people. Always obey posted warnings and signs. Do your own due diligence. If there is any warning of danger or a lifeguard isn’t present, don’t assume the water is safe.
Getting Back to Shore
Let’s say the worst has happened, and you’ve been caught in a rip tide. How can you survive? As we said above, the best solution is to keep your wits in check.
Next, never attempt to swim against
the rip current. Instead, try to swim in a direction that is parallel to the shore. Additionally, floating or treading water can help if the current circulates back toward the shore. Slowly but steadily, you should eventually be able to break free.
However, in the worst situation, you may not be able to break free. In this case, get to the surface and try to yell and wave your arms. You’re looking to get the attention of the lifeguard or your fellow swimmers. This is a reason why it is so important to swim in areas that are properly protected and populated.