It Takes Hundreds of Lives a Year, But Only 5% Know About It

by Moin Uddin Ahmed Tipu

How to Stay Safe in the Ocean. Any experienced lifeguard will warn you about a deadly phenomenon that claims the lives of more than 100 American beachgoers every year. In fact, about 80% of all rescues that lifeguards make have a connection to this danger. No, it’s not sharks or poisonous jellyfish or anything like that. The most treacherous thing that can happen to you in the ocean is a totally natural phenomenon called a rip current.
The main reason why people lose their lives when stuck in a rip current comes down to panic. When they find themselves suddenly being pulled away from the shore at a high speed, terror ensues, they start to panic, wear themselves out in the fight, and drown because of it. What you should do instead is stay calm, take control of the situation, keep afloat, weigh your options, and don’t exhaust yourself.

What is a rip current and how is it so deadly? 1:02
How to identify a rip current? 4:10
What to do if you’ve been caught in a rip current? 4:52
Rip current research 6:50


-A rip is basically a strong current on the surface of the ocean that flows away from the shore. The main danger of a rip is that it flows seaward away from the shore, so it can easily pull unaware swimmers with it.
-It often looks like a calm patch of water between breaking waves, which at first glance seems like the best place to enter the water. But don’t let the tranquility deceive you because you might inadvertently pick the most dangerous place to swim.
-The first thing you absolutely must do is stay calm. Panicking does not help; in fact, it ends up costing people their lives when they’re overcome by it. Second, you need to conserve energy. DO NOT attempt to swim against the rip current toward the shore.
-Dr. Jamie MacMahan, a professor of oceanography started his own research using GPS devices to track rip currents in France, England, and the U.S. Among the great number of currents he’s studied, only 10 to 20% did not return back to the shore. The rest of them moved in circles.

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