American Red Cross
Identifying a Rip Current
• a channel of churning, choppy water
• an area with a notable difference in water color
• a line of foam or debris moving steadily seaward
• a break in the incoming wave pattern
How to Escape?
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, DON’T FIGHT IT!! Fighting the current will only tire you out and put you at risk of drowning from exhaustion. You will feel yourself being pulled out to sea but don’t panic, rip currents usually only go out to just past the breakers. Rip currents do not pull you under the water; they carry you away from shore very quickly. The best course of action is to swim left or right of the current (parallel to shore) and when you no longer feel the pull, slowly swim back towards the beach. If you are in a strong rip current and cannot get away, RELAX, calmly float or tread water to conserve energy and eventually the current will lose strength. Then swim diagonally back to shore.
If you see someone in trouble that may be caught in a rip current, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
Rip Currents Safety Tip #2: If you get caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Once in a rip current, don’t fight it. Tread water, float and wave your arms in the air for help.