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The How To's of Rip Currents | Rosanne Pak

In Jacksonville Beach, Florida, a young woman was pronounced dead after she was taken underwater by a strong rip current and never resurfaced. The incident occurred on September 25, 2022, when a group of people went far out from shore when a sudden rip current swept 6 non-swimmers away from the group and dragged them under the water. A witness by the name of Darrell McBride Sr. remembers the entire scene unfolding in front of him in seconds: “They were playing in the water and then we saw hands flaring around” (Action News Jax). Other witnesses recall seeing the woman go under the water and never resurfacing for more than 20 minutes. Although multiple lifeguards were immediately called onto the scene and CPR was performed on the victim, the young woman unfortunately died moments after she was rushed to the hospital. Currently, 4 of the 5 other victims are being treated for mild injuries while the fifth victim is in critical condition at a local hospital. This incident is just one of the many cases of drowning from rip currents that occur all across America’s beaches. Here are a few things to know about rip currents:

How to Spot a Rip Current: A rip current is an unpredictable, fast, and narrow water flow where the waves around the current are calm or break, stirring sediment such as sand and seaweed to create the surrounding waters to be murkier than usual. A rip current is not to be confused with a rip tide, which is caused by tidal movement as opposed to wave movement and is predictable by simply examining the water level.

How to Escape a Rip Current #1 - Don’t Panic, Stay Calm: The first step to survive any problem faced is to always remain calm. Panicking will only cause you to exhaust and weaken yourself, therefore creating a larger chance of drowning from the rip current.

How to Escape a Rip Current #2 - Don’t Swim Against the Rip Current: The most important step to survive a rip current is to never swim against the rip current. Swimming against a rip current will only use up your energy needed to swim safely back to shore. In fact, most deaths that occur from rip currents are drownings from swimming against the currents for too long and becoming exhausted.

How to Escape a Rip Current #3 - Swim Parallel to the Shore: Finally, the quickest and safest way to escape a rip current is to swim to the sides and parallel to the shore. Once again, it is important not to swim against the currents. Swimming parallel to the currents will help you avoid this mistake and ultimately save your life. Remember to yell for help and stay afloat until you reach shore or until a lifeguard arrives to safely assist you.

Although summer might be over for this year, whether you spent it at the pool or at the beach, it’s always good to know the dangers of what rip currents are capable of (just in case you visit the beach for Thanksgiving break in a few months).

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