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Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Headquarters Washington DC
1143 AM EDT Wed May 29 2013
††††††††† - Family of Services
††††††††† - NOAA Weather Wire Service
††††††††† - Emergency Managers Weather Information Network
††††††††† - NOAAPORT
††††††††† Other NWS Partners and NWS Employees
From:†††† Mark Tew
††††††††† Chief, Marine and Coastal Weather Services Branch
Subject:† National Rip Current and Beach Safety Week
††††††††† June 2-8, 2013
Annually, rip currents claim the lives of more than 100 people.†
NWS, Sea Grant (SG), and the United States Lifesaving Association
(USLA) have partnered for national Rip Current Awareness Week and
Beach Safety Week, June 2-8, 2013.† The NWS, SG, and USLA are
seeking your help to raise awareness about two dangerous beach
hazards: rip currents and breaking waves in the surf zone.
According to the United States Lifesaving Association, annually
lifeguards rescue more than 50,000 swimmers from rip currents.
That is why it is so important to swim near a lifeguard. USLA
statistics show that the chances of drowning on a beach patrolled
by a lifeguard is 1 in 18 million.
To ensure your beautiful vacation isnít spoiled by a rip current
or breaking wave in the surf zone follow these safety tips:
Before leaving for your beach vacation learn how to swim and not
just in a pool.† You should be a strong swimmer BEFORE going into
the ocean, Great Lakes or Gulf of Mexico.
Swimming in an ocean with its winds and changing currents is much
more difficult.† Fatigue sets in much faster than in a pool.
Knowledge is power. Know how to identify rip currents.† A good
place to start is: www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov
- 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.
- Rip currents are common and can be found on most surf beaches,
† including the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.
- Some clues that a rip current is present are a channel of
† churning, choppy water; a difference in water color; a line
† of foam, seaweed or debris moving seaward; a break in the†
† incoming wave pattern.†
- This break in the incoming wave pattern can look like smooth†
† safe water.† This is actually the rip current knocking down
† the incoming waves as this river of water returns to the
When you arrive at the beach, check with the lifeguard about surf
conditions and rip currents before going into the surf zone.† The
lifeguard knows where the rip currents are as well as other
dangers along the beach and in the surf.
Read all posted signs, such as the Break The Grip Of The Ripģ
Beach sign.† This sign informs the public about the presence of
rip currents and how to escape them.
Learn the beach warning flag system.† No flag means there are no
dangers present.† Even the green means use caution.
Swim with a buddy. Never swim alone. Bring a cell phone in case
you need to call 911.
Watch your children carefully. A sudden wave or current could
quickly drag them out to the ocean.† A child can drown in
Never swim near piers, jetties, or groins where there are
permanent rip currents.†
If caught in a rip:†
- Stay calm.
- Donít fight the current.
- 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.
- If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore,
† draw attention to yourself:† face the shore, call or wave for
- Have a buddy or two on the beach watching you, should you need
† help, they can quickly get help.
- Enter the water feet first.† Diving into breaking waves is
† dangerous.† You donít 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.†
Respect the power of the ocean!† 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
For more information on how to Break The Grip Of The Ripģ check
To learn more about other beach hazards go to:
Rip Current Program and Beach Hazards Program
NWS Public Information Notices are online: