Rip currents are one of the leading causes of deaths and injuries at the beach every year. While it’s always fun to enjoy swimming in the ocean – especially during the summer, it’s important to know the warning signs of rip currents and how to stay safe if you happen to get caught in one. Rip currents are formed in any large open water area and can be difficult to spot if you’re unsure of what to look for. Before entering any body of open water, check out some of our rip current safety tips to keep yourself safe in an emergency.

Swimmers are out in the ocean despite the warnings of rip currents.

What to do if there’s a rip current:

  • Keep Calm: If by chance you get stuck in a rip current, it’s important to stay calm and not try to fight the current. Going into a panic will cause you to potentially put yourself in a more dangerous position, making it more difficult to escape the current.
  • Swim Parallel: Do not try to swim directly back to shore – this will only exhaust you. Instead, be sure to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. As soon as you escape the current, you can proceed to swim towards the shore.
  • Rest if Needed: If you have trouble swimming parallel to shore, recoup some energy by treading water or floating. Then, swim parallel to shore to escape the current. Once you are out of the current, try swimming toward the shore to exit the water,
  • Ask for Help: If you realize that you can’t make it out of the rip current, try drawing attention to yourself by calling for help or waving to a lifeguard to come assist you.
  • Avoid Big Structures: If possible, try to stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
  • Assist Others: If you notice someone is in trouble and needs assistance, call for a lifeguard to help. If a lifeguard is not available, call emergency 911. If possible, find something that floats, such as a life jacket or inflatable ball, and throw it to the victim.
  • Share Your Knowledge: If you’re visiting the beach with friends or family, educate them about rip currents and how to avoid them. Instruct them on how to escape rip currents by swimming parallel to shore.
  • Take Precautions: Before entering the ocean water, it’s a good idea to check conditions before hand. Check for any warning flags, or feel free to ask a lifeguard about the conditions or any potential hazards.

Do you have any tips for staying safe during a rip current? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Waves on the beach