Don’t Get Carried Away: How to Survive a Riptide

Don’t Get Carried Away: How to Survive a Riptide

Being carried out to sea is one of the scariest experiences anyone may face at the beach. The dangers of riptides cannot be understated. It is estimated that riptides cause more deaths each year than sharks and boating accidents combined. The best way to protect yourself and those you care about is to be knowledgeable about the dangers, and know what to do if you’re ever caught in one.
How to Survive a Riptide
Riptides or rip currents, also referred to as an undertow, were first recorded in the 1860‘s. They have been observed on beaches all around the world. Essentially they are wave patterns that separate into two different flows, one atop another. The flow on top moves faster than the water beneath, creating the riptide. As powerful as they can be, there are a few things you can do to minimize the danger and get yourself back to safety.

Here is a short guide to help you learn how to survive a riptide.

1- Don’t panic. The biggest issue starts right at the beginning. Most people who perish due to a riptide always panic. There are two things to remember when dealing with riptides. First they are usually pretty narrow, and second, they eventually fade out (way before the open ocean). So, in reality, it’s not the current that’s deadly, it’s when people fight it that they get into trouble.
2- Relax. When you find yourself in a riptide, remember that it’s just the water on top that is moving fast so it’s not going to pull you under. Your best bet is to just tread water and observe the surface of the water, locating the edge of the riptide. Also, remember to follow step number one, and remain calm and go with the flow.
3- Choose your way out. When caught in a riptide, the last thing you want to do is fight against it. You will just wear yourself out, increasing your chances of drowning. If you find yourself caught in a riptide your best bet is to wait it out and let the water take you out. Don’t worry, riptides will not pull you deep out into the ocean, as they normally don’t go out very far. Once the current has taken you out to the end, swim parallel to the shore and then make your way back to land.


New York Marine Trades Association
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