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Danger Zone: Rip Current Survival Guide

4 minutes

(Describer) Rip Current Survival Guide.

(man) A rip current is a narrow, fast-moving channel of water that starts near the beach and extends offshore through the line of breaking waves. If you get caught in a rip current, stay calm. It won't pull you under, just away. Call and wave for help, float. Don't swim back to shore against the rip current because it will tire you out. Swim out of the rip, parallel to shore, along the beach,

(Describer) Newscasters prefer using their own graphics. I think it's obvious this is dye tracking

then follow breaking waves back to shore at an angle. People misunderstand and think rip currents only occur

(Describer) This may need to be shorter to give it a better chance of making it on air.

during bad-weather days at the beach. But you can have strong rip currents with sunny days and waves of only two to three feet high, because rip currents aren't caused by weather, but by waves and factors like the tide and the bottom's shape. Rip currents can occur anywhere there's breaking waves, like large, sandy beaches on the open ocean. They can occur where there's hard structures, like jetties, piers, or even rocks jutting out. In terms of the tide, rip currents occur at low tide when waves break over the sandbar near shore. That's the third part-- the sandbar. You'll have strong rip currents if there's significant sandbar near shore with a channel. When you get to the beach, swim near a lifeguard. To know if the conditions are hazardous or not, ask a lifeguard. Many beaches have a flag system, or other forms of communication if the conditions are hazardous. Let a lifeguard make a rip current rescue, because often people that try to make rescues themselves end up drowning. The best way to help is to throw something that floats and immediately get a lifeguard for help. At a beach without a lifeguard, make sure you know how to spot a rip current and know how to get out. When you go in the water, bring flotation. Spotting a rip current needs some practice. When you go to the beach, start off back from the water. Rip current are visible from up high, like a dune line or beach access. Look for places where waves aren't breaking-- flat spots in the line of waves, or where there's foam or sediment in the water being transported away from the beach, offshore. Before going, check your local beach conditions. Look at the wave forecast. With waves two to three feet high or greater, you could have rip currents. Look for a hazardous rip current statement for your beach. Then check the tide as well. Rip currents often occur at low tide, so be mindful at low tide that strong rip currents could occur.

(Describer) Titles: oceantoday.noaa.gov. Ocean Today has been brought to you by the Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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A rip current is a narrow, fast-moving channel of water that starts near the beach and extends offshore through the line of breaking waves. If a swimmer gets caught in a rip current, the best thing they can do is stay calm. The current will not pull a swimmer underwater, but it will pull them away from shore. A swimmer caught in a rip current should float and wave for help. Do not try to swim back to shore or against the rip current. Part of the "Danger Zone" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

Danger Zone
Episode 1
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 2
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 4
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 5
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 6
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 7
3 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 8
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 9
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Danger Zone
Episode 10
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12