WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) - Many summer weekend plans will include one last trip to the beach; however, this year rip currents could make the Atlantic Ocean dangerous, even for the strongest swimmers. In fact, the U.S. Lifesaving Association says rip currents are the reason for almost 80% of all rescues.
How does a rip current form?
In short, rip currents are caused by waves pushing a large amount of water up onto shore above sea level. Gravity will pull the water back down to sea level in the fastest way possible (imagine pulling the drain in a filled tub). This is usually an area of an underwater trough or a sand bar break. This strong, concentrated rush out to sea will become the rip current and take even the strongest swimmers offshore.
What to do when caught in a rip current:
- Don’t panic, do not attempt to swim back to shore as you will only fatigue.
- Swim parallel to the beach until you are out of the current.
- Float calmly with the current, then when it subsides, swim diagonally back to shore.
How to spot a rip current:
- Check for a change in water color.
- Watch for ocean sediments or seaweed channeling in one area or direction.
- Look for a choppy surface that extends beyond the breaker zone.
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