San Diego beaches are under an elevated risk of rip currents through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Rip currents are dangerous for anyone in the water, regardless of whether you can swim. A rip current is a strong, narrow flow of water that can swiftly pull you far away from the beach and keep you from easily swimming back to shore. It will not pull you under the water, however.
Swimmers who don’t realize they’ve been caught in a rip current can panic when they discover they’re being swept away, or simply tire themselves out swimming against the rip current in an effort to get back to the beach – both of which increases the risk of drowning.
Rip currents can carry swimmers far away from the shore. They often form at breaks in sandbars and near structures like jetties and piers. Rip current risk is elevated today through Wednesday: read below to learn how to spot one!
— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) August 9, 2020
The National Weather Service has several tips for staying safe at the beach. Here’s how to spot a rip current, and avoid getting caught in one:
• Check water conditions before going to the beach by looking at the local beach forecast.
• Talk to the lifeguard about water conditions when you get to the beach.
• Only swim at beaches with lifeguards on duty. According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association, the chance of drowning at a beach where there are lifeguards is 1 in 18 million.
• Rip currents can form on calm, sunny days, so never assume the water is safe – even in the shallows. According to the National Weather Service, rip currents can occur when waves are only 2 to 3 feet, and are typically strongest at low tide.
Learn to spot a rip current by looking for a break in the incoming wave pattern; a channel of churning, chopping water; the difference in water color caused by sediments suspended in the rip current; and a line of foam, seaweed or debris that is moving out to sea.
If you see someone who is caught in a rip current, stay onshore. Alert the lifeguards immediately, or call 9-1-1 if needed for assistance. And if you get caught in a rip current, the National Weather Services says to swim alongside the shoreline to escape the rip current. Then swim back to shore at an angle, following the breaking waves.
For more information, watch this safety video produce by the National Ocean Service with comprehensive guidance from Senior Scientist Greg Dusek.
— Staff report
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