I absolutely love going to the beach! Growing up near water and living out my Parrot Head lifestyle, I love soaking up some sun and enjoying the nice sea breeze. My girlfriend and I are planning a beach getaway for our anniversary this year.

Right before my girlfriend and I started dating, I went on a beach trip with some friends from high school. We went to Asbury Park in New Jersey, and it was the perfect weather for the weekend. While swimming in the ocean; however, I got caught in a rip current. It was definitely scary because regardless of however I tried to swim, I stayed in the same place. At first, I felt trapped, but then I remembered some life-saving tips that I learned on how to survive a rip current.

The Dangers of Being Caught in a Rip Current

With many New Yorkers racing off to the beach this summer, it's important to know how to spot and avoid a rip current. And if you do end up getting caught in one, remembering these tips can save your life.

About 100 people drown from rip currents along U.S. beaches each year, according to the United States Lifesaving Association. And more than 80 percent of beach rescues annually involve rip currents. The National Weather Service lists 16 known deaths so far in 2024 from rip currents in U.S. waters, including the Florida fatalities as well as eight deaths in Puerto Rico and two in Texas.

Canva / passion4nature from Getty Images
Canva / passion4nature from Getty Images

If you do get caught in a rip current, the best thing you can do is stay calm. It's not going to pull you underwater, it's just going to pull you away from shore. Call and wave for help. You want to float, and you don't want to swim back to shore against the rip current because it will just tire you out.

  • Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
  • If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
  • If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
  • Always raise your hand and shout for help.

Floating May Save Your Life

If you found yourself struggling in the water unexpectedly, your instinct would tell you to swim hard. But cold water shock could make you gasp uncontrollably. Then you could breathe in water and drown. Instead, you should Float to Live.

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The best way to float is to tilt your head back with your ears submerged. Try to relax and breathe normally. You can gently move your hands to help you stay afloat if you need to. Spread your arms and legs out to improve stability – and it's OK if your legs sink, we all float differently. Once your breathing is under control, call for help or swim to safety.

Should I Help Someone Stuck in a Rip Current?

It can be dangerous to try to rescue someone caught in a rip current, officials say. Often the people trying to perform the rescue can get into trouble themselves. I understand that if it's someone you know, especially a family member or a child, you want to spring into action. Even if you think you're a phenomenal swimmer, if you try to save someone in a rip tide, don't risk it. Your attempt at a rescue could easily mean that two people need help now. It’s best to find a lifeguard, if there is one, or call 911 if a struggling swimmer is spotted. People on shore can also try to tell the person to swim parallel to shore.

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