Not every danger at the beach is visible. Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for beachgoers and oftentimes, are hard to identify. More than 80% of water rescues on surf beaches are due to these scary acts of nature, which pull swimmers out into the sea.
Rip currents can occur at any type of surf beach that has breaking waves, so this even includes some large lakes. They typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, as well as around structures such as groins, jetties and piers.
Look for these clues:
- a channel of churning, choppy water
- an area having a notable difference in water color
- a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
- a break in the incoming wave pattern
However, none, one, or more of the above clues may indicate the presence of rip currents, so don't rely on just your sight. If you do find yourself caught up in one, remain calm (panicking will make things worse) and follow these steps from the United States Lifesaving Association:
- Don't fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards the shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water. Once you're out of the current, head towards the shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself. Face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
The best safety precautions are to never swim alone, be cautious, and swim when there is a lifeguard on duty. Be sure your kids are aware of the dangers, and know how to react if they're faced with it.
What are some beach hazards that you make sure your kids are aware of?