DANGERS OF RIP CURRENTS

DANGERS OF RIP CURRENTS (Image 1)

Before going to the beach, you need to know the risk.  RIP CURRENTS. 

So far this year, there have been 26 fatalities due to rip currents throughout the country.  (source:  National Weather Service)

A RIP CURRENT IS A NARROW CHANNEL OR RIVER OF WATER MOVING QUICKLY
AWAY FROM THE SHORE…SOMETIMES AS FAST AS 5 OR 6 MPH. THEY
TYPICALLY EXTEND FROM NEAR THE SHORELINE…THROUGH A BREAK IN THE
SANDBAR IN THE SURF ZONE AND OUT PAST THE LINE OF BREAKING WAVES.

RIP CURRENTS ARE COMPRISED OF THREE COMPONENTS…THE FEEDER
SOURCE…THE NECK AND THE HEAD. THE FEEDER SOURCE IS THE AREA WHERE
WAVE ENERGY IS FOCUSED…AND IS THE FUEL SOURCE FOR THE RIP CURRENT.
THE NECK IS THE MOST DANGEROUS PART OF THE RIP CURRENT…WHERE WATER
IS FLOWING QUICKLY AWAY FROM THE BEACH. AND THE HEAD IS WHERE THE
EFFECTS OF THE RIP CURRENT BEGIN TO DISPERSE OR SPREAD OUT…AS THE
SEAWARD PULL DIMINISHES.

RIP CURRENTS TYPICALLY RANGE FROM AT LEAST A FEW FEET WIDE…TO AS
LARGE AS 100 TO 200 FEET IN WIDTH. THE LENGTH OF THE RIP CURRENT
USUALLY BEGINS TO DISSIPATE BEYOND THE BREAKING WAVES…BUT CAN
SOMETIMES EXTEND HUNDREDS OF FEET BEYOND THE SURF ZONE.

IN RECENT YEARS RIP CURRENTS HAVE KILLED MORE PEOPLE THAN
FLOODING…TORNADOES…LIGHTNING OR EVEN HURRICANES. MORE THAN 75
PERCENT OF OCEAN RESCUES ARE DUE TO RIP CURRENTS.

RIP CURRENTS CAN BE FOUND ALMOST EVERY DAY AT MANY BEACHES. BUT
WHILE RIP CURRENTS CAN CARRY YOU AWAY FROM SHORE…THEY DO NOT PULL
YOU UNDER THE WATER.

TO IDENTIFY RIP CURRENTS LOOK FOR DIFFERENCES IN WATER COLOR OR
WATER MOTION…OR A CHANGE IN SHAPE OF THE INCOMING WAVES. LOOK FOR
CHANNELS OF CHURNING OR CHOPPY WATER. OFTEN YOU MAY SEE A LINE OF
FOAM…SEAWEED OR OTHER DEBRIS MOVING OUT TO SEA. THESE ARE ALL
INDICATORS OF RIP CURRENTS.

YOU SHOULD ALWAYS PROCEED WITH CAUTION IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON GOING
IN THE WATER. ALWAYS SWIM NEAR A LIFEGUARD. THE CHANCES OF DROWNING
AT A BEACH PROTECTED BY LIFEGUARDS IS 1 IN 18 MILLION.

WE WILL HAVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON RIP CURRENTS AGAIN TOMORROW.

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