12 tips to avoid getting caught in a rip current

Anyone who visits a surf beach, whether at the ocean or large bodies of water like the Great Lakes, is exposed to the danger of rip currents.
Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches. Typically, the currents form at breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as jetties and piers, according to the United States Lifesaving Association.
The tips below will help you avoid getting caught in a rip current:

1. Water conditions

Check water conditions before going in by looking at the local beach forecast before you leave for the beach and talking to the lifeguard at the beach.

2. Lifeguards

Only swim at a beach with lifeguards. The chances of drowning at a beach with lifeguards are 1 in 18 million, according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association.

3. Learn to swim

Learn to swim in the surf and make sure your children can swim in the surf. Pool swimming is not the same as swimming at a surf beach.

4 . Buddy system

Never swim alone.

5. Don't assume

Great weather for the beach does not always mean it's safe to swim or even play in the shallows. Rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.
What are scientists doing to keep swimmers safer? Find out in this video.
Below watch National Ocean Service senior scientist Dr. Greg Dusek's webinar designed to provide safety messages for beachgoers.

If caught in a rip current

6. Relax

Rip currents don't pull you under. Don’t swim against the current.

7. Follow the shoreline

You may be able to escape by swimming out of the current in a direction following the shoreline, or toward breaking waves, then at an angle toward the beach.

8. Float

You may be able to escape by floating or treading water if the current circulates back toward shore.

9. Yell and wave

If you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself. If you need help, yell and wave for assistance.

How do to help someone else

Don't become a victim while trying to help someone else! Many people have died trying to rescue rip current victims.

10. Get help

Get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not present, call 911, then try to direct the victim to swim following the shoreline to escape.
11. If possible, throw the rip current victim something that floats.
12. Never enter the water without a flotation device.