National Rip Current Awareness Week and Beach Safety Week - (June 1-7, 2014)

Date Posted: May 21, 2014

National Rip Current Awareness and Beach Safety WeekThis is national Rip Current and Beach Safety Awareness Week. Know BEFORE you go!  Learn about two dangerous beach hazards:  rip currents and breaking waves in the surf zone, as well as many other beach/surf zone related hazards at and  and

Actions You Need To Take Before Going To The Beach. 

Know Before you enter the water what rip currents are and especially how to escape one. A good place to start is:  or look for your local Sea Grant program for more information in your area  (click on Where We Work, Sea Grant Programs, select the state where your beach is located).

Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches.  Typically they form at breaks in sandbars, and also near structures, such as jetties and piers and cliffs that jut out into the water. Rip currents are common and can be found on most surf beaches, including the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.

Actions to take if caught in a rip:  

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Don't fight the current.  It's a natural treadmill.
  3. Relax and float conserving your energy.  This can be lifesaving.
  4. Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline.  When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  5. If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself:  face the shore, call or wave for help.
  6. An easy jingle to remember is:  Wave and yell…and swim parallel.

Know how to swim before you venture in!  Changing ocean currents and winds are difficult enough for those who do know how to swim, and can be quite fatiguing.  You should be a strong swimmer before going into the ocean, Great Lakes, or Gulf of Mexico.  According to the USLA, learning how to swim is the best defense against drowning.  Learn how to swim.  Some swimming programs now teach individuals how to escape rip currents.  Annually, America's surf beach lifeguards rescue more than 50,000 swimmers from rip currents.  Always swim at a lifeguard protected beach. and

Know what the surf zone forecasts are from the National Weather Service.  They can be found at:  Click on the dot closest to the beach you are visiting.  You can also ask the hotel or rental agency you are using for local sources of weather and beach forecasts.

Take your cell phone to the beach.  In case of an emergency, where the lifeguard is not present, call 911.  If you go to the beach three people, one can be in the ocean swimming, one on the beach watching, and one available to take lifesaving actions.

Know BEFORE You Go Into The Water!  Actions YOU need to take to protect your life and others.

You have arrived at the beach and the water looks inviting, but before you enter the water, ask yourself, is the water safe?  Before jumping in make sure you are aware of the water's conditions.  Know before you go in. Talk to the lifeguard or beach patrol, no one will know the current water conditions better they.  They are trained to detect dangerous currents and waves and know other water conditions, such as the water temperature. This information could save your life.  Annually, rip currents claim the lives of more than 100 people.

Know what the warning flags mean and read and obey the beach safety signs when you first arrive.  Beach warning flags are often posted on or near a lifeguard's stand.  Typically, a green flag means water conditions are safe, but other colors usually mean conditions are not safe. They are meant to protect your life and others, please read and obey the posted beach signs, warning flags, and lifeguards.  and

Know where the safety stations are on the beach.  Here you will find floatation devices, such as life rings.  If a swimmer is caught in a rip current, a floatation device can be thrown out to them keeping them afloat until they are rescued.  Other actions you can take are, throwing an ice chest that floats to the swimmer caught in the current, or throw a line to them to pull them and

Actions you can take once you and your children are in the water.
Swim with one or more buddies.  According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others.  At least have someone onshore watching you.

Always watch your children carefully, especially when they are playing near the edge of the ocean or in it.  A sudden wave or current could quickly drag them through the surf out to the breaking waves.  Remember, a child can drown in seconds.

Large waves and strong currents in the surf zone can knock adults off their feet and can even pull a good swimmer out to sea.  If the current makes you feel unsteady on your feet or if waves are breaking over your waist, it's time to either move to calmer or shallower water, or get out of the water completely.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), enter the water feet first.  Diving into breaking waves is dangerous.  You don't know how deep the water is, there might be a sandbar just beneath.  Breaking waves, large or small, can flip you and drive your head into the wet sand which is like concrete causing severe neck and spinal injuries.

Remember! NEVER turn your back on the ocean. Ocean waves can hit you suddenly causing severe neck and spinal cord injuries.  Even small waves can be dangerous.  Learn more at

Here's an easy jingle to remember about ocean waves, "Stay Dry When the Waves are High".

So, Know Before you Go and you will be safe from head to toe.