What You Need To Know About Rip Currents


Did you know that ocean rips are the cause of hundreds of deaths each year?

This is why it is so important to stay safe and learn as much as you can about the ocean environment to ensure your fun day at the beach doesn’t result in disaster.


What is a Rip Current?

It is basically a strong pull/current on the surface of the ocean that flows away from the shore. Usually a quick change in the wave pattern will result in a rip, but the overall main factor for rip currents are breaking waves.

Where do Rip Currents Happen?

Breaks in sandbars are common to house these rips and occur closer to the beach.

Why are Rip Currents Dangerous?

Typically the force of rip currents will bring swimmers further away from the shore. If a swimmer is not strong in the skill or feels tired whilst trying to break free from the current, there is a high possibility of drowning.


Just because you can’t see a rip, doesn’t mean it is not there.

Picture by John Larter
Picture by John Larter

How to Identify a Rip

It appears as a calm patch of water in-between breaking waves. However safe it may appear, it could be the most dangerous area to enter.

Other Signs Could Include:
  • Seaweed and Foam Moving Toward the Shore from the Ocean
  • An area that Appears Darker than the Rest
  • An area with choppy water

Many rip currents appear differently, so it is best to ask locals if they know where they are common.

What To Do If You Get Caught In A Rip

#1. Stay Calm

If you get stressed and start to act frantic, you will have a harder time keeping yourself up and find yourself getting exhausted way quicker. That is why you need to keep yourself as relaxed as possible.

#2. Conserve Energy

As mentioned above, it is important to be relaxed so you can get out of the dangerous situation.

#3. Do NOT attempt to Swim Against the Current

Rips move faster than anyone’s ability to swim. Therefore, it would be a useless action that will cause energy depletion and can result in tragedy because of this.

#4. One of the Best Thing you CAN do is to Stay Afloat.

Laying on your back in a star-like shape, with your arms above your head, both arms and legs spread out, with your stomach at the surface, and your head back, you should be able to keep yourself up.

#5. Raise your Hand to Signal for Help

You should only swim at a beach that is supervised by lifeguards. In this case, raise your hand and wave for attention. Lifeguards will be looking out for anyone that needs help and when a hand goes up, it signals to them that you are in need of assistance.

#6. Wait it Out

If you happen to be at a beach that is not supervised and get in a rip current, you also have the option to ‘wait-it-out’. Rips are formed in a circular motion which means that often times if you let it carry you, it will eventually bring you back towards shore, on a sandbank, or in worse cases, it will bring you out a bit further but eventually the current will disperse and you can either wait for help or swim back to shore yourself. Just make sure you are swimming around the rip.

Often times, people who struggle the most with currents are the ones panicking. So if you do get caught in a rip current, the most important thing to remember, is to be calm.

My information came from the Survival Tips Youtube Channel: To learn more, take a look at this video.

Sources: Pictures (1) (2)

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