NWS Rip Currents Safety: At the Beach
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Actions to Take at the Beach to Protect You, Your Family and Others

Talk with the Lifeguard

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 into the water. Talk to the lifeguard or beach patrol, no one will know the current water conditions better than they will. 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 where the Life Ring or Floatation Device Stations are located

Know where the life ring stations are on the beach. These stations will have floatation devices, such as life rings which you throw to a victim to pull him or her back to shore or to keep the person afloat until rescue comes. If no station is nearby, you can throw an ice chest or anything else that floats to the swimmer caught in the current. If a rope is available from a nearby boat or other source, you can throw the victim a line to them to pull them in.

Always swim with one or more buddies and make sure the person on shore has a cell phone

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, which includes signaling for assistance from others. At least have someone onshore watching you so if an emergency does happen they can for call help.www.usla.org

In case of an emergency, where the lifeguard is not present, call 911. If you go to the beach with at least four people, two can be in the ocean swimming, one on the beach watching, and one available to take lifesaving actions while the other continues to spot the location of those caught in the rip current.

Actions you can take once you and your children are in the water

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.


The flat water located between breaking waves, which appears to be safe water for your children, is actually the rip current. It is a river flowing away from the beach out to the ocean stopping just beyond the breaking waves within the surf zone. Rip currents break down waves.
mother and child at edge of surf