Going to the beach is always a fun activity. Spending time with friends and family in the water and under the summer sun is a great way to spend a weekend. It’s the perfect amount of relaxation before the work week begins again.
However, the beach can also pose some very real dangers. You have to be careful if you bring your children and allow them to play at the shoreline; the ocean current, while beautiful, is powerful, and it can carry them away in a second. Even strong swimmers are susceptible to the pull of the undertow.
Riptides are something that every beach-goer needs to be on the lookout for if they decide to take a dip. Many people aren’t entirely sure what they are or where they come from, but they account for 80% of all lifeguard rescues a year. Now, that’s a scary number!
Millions of people enjoy the beach every year. On a hot summer day, there’s nothing quite like lying out under the sun, soaking up some rays, and then taking a dip into the ocean when you get too hot.
J Etzel / Flickr
As fun as the beach is, though, if you aren’t careful you can run into some serious dangers. One of the most potentially hazardous aspects is the ocean itself. Water is as powerful a force as anything nature has to offer.
Even if you or your child is a great swimmer, you’re no match for the strong currents beneath the ocean’s surface. Many people drown every year because they underestimate the strength of the sea, but, there’s one specific type of current that claims the lives of people every year…
One of the deadliest forces in the ocean is the riptide. Riptides result in nearly 80% of lifeguard rescues per year. These intense streams of currents can drag a swimmer far out into the water in a matter of seconds.
Riptides are no laughing matter. Lifeguards are instructed to warn swimmers not to venture into certain areas of the ocean due to high amounts of these water currents. Even though lifeguards are specially trained, sometimes they, too, are no match for the ocean’s force.
This diagram is a helpful visual used to teach how riptides work. Essentially, as the tide comes rushing into shore, there are thin areas of waterways up the middle where the sea rushes back out. These streams of water occur dangerously quick.
When the coastline extends many miles, it’s not uncommon for multiple riptides to occur at once, creating quite a hazardous environment up the entire beach. Parents need to be especially careful if they have small children playing in the water.
If you should encounter a riptide while swimming, it’s important to stay calm. Let the current take you and don’t exhaust yourself trying to swim against it. Because of the way a riptide functions, you’ll come bobbing to the surface sooner than later!
This should be a warning to all those who frequent the beach. No matter how strong of a swimmer you think you are, you’re no match for the sudden force of a riptide.
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