Red Cross Offers Ten Ways to Stay Safe in Dangerous Rip Currents

What are rip currents? They are powerful currents of water flowing away from shore. Rip currents usually extend from the shoreline past the line of breaking waves, and can occur at any beach with breaking waves, even on large lakes.

Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

1. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.

2. If you plan to swim in the ocean, learn how to swim in the surf. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area.

3. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic.

4. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance.

5. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current.

6. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.

7. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

8. Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

9. If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. It’s important to know that people can drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

10.View this Red Cross video and graphic for more rip current safety information.





  • Visit here for important Red Cross water safety information.
  • Designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach until the next Water Watcher takes over. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • All non-swimmers need to be monitored with arms-reach supervision by an adult who can swim.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.


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