Even the best of swimmers can unexpectedly get into an unforeseen circumstance when enjoying our beautiful ocean! In fact, the ocean is known for being “unpredictable” at times, and the best way to stay safe is to be aware of what to do if something unexpected happens to you. We wrote in two previous blogs about being aware of beach conditions, knowing basic safety tips and rules to follow, and how to assess the waves, especially during the “big wave” winter months. This blog, third in our series, relates to shorebreaks, rip currents, and the potential hazard of getting caught “off guard”.
When you get to a beach, as we have said, you know to look for any beach warning signs and check with lifeguards for current ocean conditions, but despite these initial precautions you may still encounter the unexpected. For example, waves coming in to shore create currents which are not always easily seen until you get “caught” in one. These rip currents can be very strong and your first instinct may be Panic! It is important NOT to panic, and here is what you should do…
IF YOU GET CAUGHT IN THE RIP
* You will feel the current carrying you away from shore.
* Let someone know you are in trouble – shout, wave.
* Then relax and let the current take you out to calmer waters.
* Don’t swim against the current. You won’t win.
* Once you feel the grip of the current loosen: First swim parallel to shore a few feet to get totally out of
the rip… Then get back to the beach by swimming diagonally in to shore.
Another common occurrence that catches many off guard is the giant shorebreak which can come crashing down unexpectedly, knocking you down and pulling you under and out as it recedes. It can be disorienting and, of course, frightening, so you need to know what to do and NOT to panic!
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET CAUGHT IN A SHORE BREAK
* Stand up and try to walk out quickly, stepping high, before the wave washes back to sea.
* If the wave does pull you back, swim out to sea a little.
* Don’t stay in the shore break or you will probably get pounded and scraped up.
* “Duck Dive” through the curl of the waves and wait beyond the breaking waves until the lull between sets.
* Come in to shore during the calm period between wave sets.
We hope this information, shared with you from the Lifeguard Association and from our friends at Under the Sea, will help you to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances you may encounter as you are out enjoying the ocean. Our goal is to help you have fun and stay safe doing it!