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.
- Don’t panic. Most rip current deaths occur because swimmers fight the rip current, get exhausted, and drown.
- Swim parallel to the beach swimming straight back to shore will put you head-to-head with the rip current’s full force.
- Make your way back to shore once you’ve escaped the rip current.
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