More than 400 people in one day had to be saved by lifeguards in L.A. County this week due to rip currents.
Rip currents don’t just occur off the coast of California, however. They show up an all coasts in the U.S. including the Great Lakes. Normally, waves travel from deep to shallow water and break along the shore line. Rip currents are created in the gap of the sandbar, pulling the current towards it like a drain. These gaps catch swimmers off guard a lot. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that more than 10,000 people need to be rescued from rip currents by lifeguards and about 100 people are killed by them annually.
How do you avoid one of these life threatening currents? There’s some indicators as to where these currents are located. Being on the lookout for these places can save your life.
One of the most obvious signs is gaps in the waves. If the waves are choppy, yet one area looks strangely calm, do not swim in that area. Water near rip currents also tends to be discolored as sediment is carried with the waves.
If you get trapped in a current, don’t panic or fight the current. Swim parallel to shore to get out of the current, then swim at an angle towards shore. If you can’t escape, float or tread water to stay on the surface. Yell or wave for help if you feel like your life is in danger.