Understanding riptides

We live a 20 minute walk from the beach and most of our week is spent on the beach during summer so it’s important that we nòt only respect and understand our ocean but that we teach our kids to as well.One of the things we are warned about are riptides. On average a person drowns every 2 to 3 days (Kenny Jewell-official) during summer and of those fatalities 90 % are due to riptides.

But what exactly is a riptide?

According to Wikipedia ….

“A Riptide is a strong, offshore current that is caused by the tide pulling water through an inlet along a barrier beach, at a lagoon or inland marina where tide water flows steadily out to sea during ebb tide.”

How can you stay safe in a riptide?

The easiest thing to remember is that often the calmest looking area along a beach is usually a rip area.This rip area is usually void of wave activity and appears darker and deceptively calmer.Because of this, when you get to the beach take time to observe the surf conditions and try to identify where these rip areas are.Most importantly if you are caught in a rip tide…


Immediately start floating on your back and raise one arm as a distress signal when possible.Try to determine which direction the riptide is taking you and once you have determined this, and if you have the energy, swim to the right or left of the direction of flow. Never try to swim against the flow as a rip tide can move 3 times faster than an Olympic swimmer.If you cannot swim out of the riptide, just go with it. Most riptides won’t take you out very far to sea.Keep calm and save your energy for the swim back to shore.

Obviously the safest place to swim is always between the flags on a patrolled beach.

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