Rip Currents: Formation And Escape

As vacationers and day trippers continue to flock to eastern Carolina's beaches, rip currents are an increasing danger.

Rip currents form by heavy waves crashing in to the beach next to each other. Gravity then pulls the water back out to sea and the space between the heavy waves forms an area of fast offshore flowing water. The water in this area is usually muddy looking as the flow of the water picks up sand and sediment as it flows out to the ocean.

If you do find yourself in a rip current and you are getting pulled out to sea, the two most important things to do are stay calm and do not try to swim back against the current. This will only fatigue you and increase your chances of drowning. In order to get out of a rip current, swim parallel to the shoreline. When you feel like you are no longer being pulled out in to the ocean, then change your direction and head for the shore.

There have been countless rescues of swimmers getting pulled out to sea by rip currents this summer season and far too many deaths. With an increased awareness of the dangers of rip currents, one can only hope it cuts down on the tragedies that are associated with this phenomena.

For further information, you can visit these websites:

NOAA Rip Currents

North Carolina Sea Grant