× How to Escape a Rip Current Frame 1: Don't panic.  Most rip current deaths occur because swimmers fight the rip current, get exhausted and drown. Frame 2: Swim parallel to the beach. Swimming straight back to shore will put you head-to-head with the rip current's full force. Most rip currents are 20-100 ft. wide Frame 3: Make your way back to shore once you've escaped the rip current. If you get tired, tread water or float on your back until the current dissipates 50-100 ft. from shore.

| July 14, 2016

Last updated: October 15, 2018

Manly Skills, Survival, Visual Guides

How to Escape a Rip Current

how to escape a riptide rip current illustration

Churning, swirling, sucking swaths of water, rip currents are a scary experience for anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in one. Often inaccurately called riptides, rip currents are formed when ocean waves get forced between obstacles — like coral reefs, sandbars, piers, or rocks — on their way back out to sea. As the returning waves are squeezed in, they start to move faster and swirl around, carrying you away from shore and into deeper water. Use the above guide to learn to stay calm and escape so your day at the beach doesn’t end in tragedy.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak