Rip Current Safety

(WTNH / Tina Detelj)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — You’ve probably heard of rip current before but you’re thinking, eh I’m a good swimmer or maybe you think you can’t get them out on Long Island Sound? Unfortunately both of those aren’t true, no matter how good of a swimmer you are, you can get stuck in a rip current. So what exactly is it and how do you save you life if you get stuck in one? Check it out.

“There’s over 100 fatalities each year due to rip currents and it’s estimated that 80 percent of all lifeguard rescues are due to rip currents,” said Lieutenant Matthew Richards, US Coast Guard.

So what is a rip current? Well think of it as a small stream moving very fast away from the shoreline, fast enough that even a great swimmer won’t be able to swim against it. From close up, it’s very hard to see, but take a few steps back and spotting them will be less difficult. Look for areas that the waves aren’t breaking, or for spots that have foam or sediment moving away from the shore. Now this is not a guarantee that you’ll spot a rip current, but it may give you a better indication.

Now often times you’re in a rip current and you don’t even realize you’re in it until it’s too late. People start getting smaller and smaller and that is a very scary thing. The key is to remain calm, not panic and allow that rip current to take you out farther. It’s not that much effort to escape though, here’s what you have to do.

People typically when they’re caught in rip currents, they try to swim back to shore with very little luck so we recommend swimming laterally across the beach in order to get out of the current and then swim back towards the beach.

Now even though you may not be able to avoid a rip current, the best way to stay safe is to swim with a buddy and make sure you’re going to a beach where there is a lifeguard on duty. Stay safe this weekend, I’m Meteorologist Sam Kantrow, News8.

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