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BEFORE You Go in the Water

Know BEFORE you enter the water what rip currents are, and how to escape them

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, as well as cliffs that jut into the water. Rip currents are common and can be found on most surf beaches, including the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico. Take a few minutes to learn more or check out the Science of the Surf site.

How to Survive a Rip Current:
  • Don't fight the current. It's a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second—faster than an Olympic swimmer.
  • Relax and float to conserve energy. Staying calm may save your life.
  • Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current's pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can't reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: If in doubt, don't go out!
Rip Current Safety Rip Current Surf and Rip Forecasts Rip Currents: Before You Go to the Beach Rip Currents: At the Beach Rip Current science