Here’s What You Need to Know About Rip Currents

It’s critical to understand how to identify rip currents, and how to stay safe if you get caught in one

What to Know

  • Rip currents are fast-moving currents of water that can pull even strong swimmers in just a few moments
  • Rip currents often form in low spots of a beach, near breaks in a sandbar or around piers and jetties
  • A rip current can also sometimes be identified by noting a channel of churning or choppy water

The risk of rip currents was underscored this weekend, after two swimmers were swept away from a New Hampshire beach.

It’s critical to understand how to identify rip currents, and how to stay safe if you get caught in one.

Rip currents are fast moving currents of water that can pull even strong swimmers away from shore in just a few moments.

They form most often in low spots of a beach, near breaks in a sandbar, or around piers and jetties.

When you look out at the ocean there is sometimes a break in the pattern of waves offshore when a rip current is ongoing. The rip current can also sometimes be identified by noting a channel of churning or choppy water.

If you do get swept out by a rip current, try not to panic, and do not fight the current.

Instead, let it carry you out to sea. Eventually the intensity of the rip current will relax, allowing you to swim left or right, parallel to the coast and away from the current.

Once you have escaped the rip current, you can swim back to shore.

Remember, even the best swimmers can be overtaken by the power of rip currents. It’s always wise to swim near lifeguards as a result.

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