(WKBN) – Rip currents aren’t something that we have to deal with here in the Valley. If you’re traveling to a beach on the coast or to a beach on Lake Erie, though, you’ll need to be on the lookout for rip currents.
What is a rip current?
A rip current is a current of water that flows away from shore at surf beaches. They typically extend from near the shoreline and past the line of breaking waves. They can form at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes. They typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars.
Rip currents are common and can be dangerous. A person who is caught in a rip current can be swept away from shore in the current very quicky. Rip currents do not pull you under water.
Can you spot the rip?
Spotting a rip current can be tough, but it’s important to be on the lookout. The best place to spot one is from an elevated position. You’re looking for places where waves aren’t breaking. It’s a narrow channel that goes back into the ocean. You might notice spots that are different colors from foam or sediment that is being carried back into the water.
What do you do if you are caught in a rip current?
First, relax. A rip current won’t pull you under the water. It pulls you away from shore.
To get out, swim along the shore until you are out of the current. Then swim back to shore at an angle. Don’t try to turn around and swim directly back — the current will be too strong.
If you can’t swim out of the rip, float and then wave to shore for help.
Before you go to the beach, there are a few ways you can help keep you and your family safe:
- Check the current beach conditions.
- If possible swim near a lifeguard. Talk to the guard and ask them what the beach conditions are like.
- Know what the warning flags mean.
- Don’t swim alone; swim with a family member or friend.