Rip Currents: A common beach hazard

Summer is here, the weather is warm and families are flocking to San Diego’s beaches. With 70 miles of coastline, the most threatening hazard to swimmers are rip currents.

What are rip currents?

Rip currents are strong, narrow currents of water that flow from the beach to the surf zone. Because rip currents form close to the surface, they are dangerous to swimmers. Rip currents are strong enough to pull a swimmer away from the beach.

Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

• Swim only in designated swimming areas at beaches with lifeguards present.
• Before entering the water, check to see if any warning flags are up or ask a lifeguard about water conditions, beach conditions or any potential hazards.
• If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current.
• Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
• If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current, and then head toward shore.
• If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
• If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler or inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.