It’s Rip Current Awareness Week and, with many people heading to the beach this summer, officials want you to stay safe.
Rip currents are one of the ocean’s biggest threats. And they’re one that can catch some people off guard.
“That’s our biggest danger out there,” explained Adam Snyder, Chief, Atlantic Beach Fire Department. “Rip currents are located up and down the East and West coast. They’re out there.”
The fast moving channels of water can quickly pull even the strongest swimmers away from shore. And knowing what the day’s risk is ahead of time is key.
“Find out what kind of rip currents there are,” said Snyder. “If there’s a possibility of having rip currents out there, you need to make yourself aware of that before coming to the beach.”
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service put out rip current forecasts several times a day. They consider several factors before deciding what the day’s risk will be.
“We enter in the wind speed and the direction and the amount of swell in the ocean and that gives us and overall picture of what we should forecast; low, medium, or high,” explained Hal Austin, meteorologist, NWS Newport.
Even if you’re prepared for it, you can still get caught in a rip current.
The most important thing to remember is to stay calm. Don’t try to fight it. Instead, tread water or swim parallel to shore until you escape the pull of the current. Once you’re out, swim at a diagonal back to shore.
And if you’re not a strong swimmer, it’s best to stay out of the water on days with a moderate to high rip current threat.