Rip currents are dangerous, offshore flows of water found at beaches where waves break across a surfzone and these currents responsible for many people getting into trouble while swimming. Rip currents often occur in deeper channels, between areas of breaking waves, and can flow at speeds up to 2 m/s.
The best way to survive a rip current is to stay afloat and yell for help. You can also swim parallel to the shore to escape the rip current. This will allow more time for you to be rescued or for you to swim back to shore once the current eases.
A rip current forms because wind and breaking waves push surface water towards the land, and this causes a slight rise in the water level along the shore. This excess water will tend to flow back to the open water via the route of least resistance.
Undertow occurs along the entire beach face during times of large breaking waves, whereas rip currents are periodical at distinct locations. Riptides occur at inlets every day.
An undertow is a type of ocean current that is caused by waves breaking on the shore. Most are quite mild and not dangerous, as long as swimmers keep their heads, although some have been known to be powerful enough to sweep swimmers out to sea.
People often misunderstand and think that rip currents only occur during bad-weather days at the beach but actually, you can have strong rip currents with sunny days and waves of only about two to three feet high.
A moderate sized wave could absolutely pull you under of the angle of the shore incline is steep. Whether it can happen with a life jacket or not would depend on your displacement, percent body fat-in short, your tendency to float.
Always swim with an adult who can help you or call for help in case of an emergency. If you are dragged in by an undertow, you must stay calm in order to resist the process. Don't wear yourself out swimming against the current. The most important thing is to stay afloat.
If you are likely to swim in the open ocean, large lakes or other areas where undercurrents may occur, take a swimming safety class that will teach you proper open water safety techniques and how to escape from undercurrents.
While it won't pull a swimmer beneath the waves, it can carry one a few hundred feet out. It's literally a "river in the lake or ocean." An undertow is a brisk bottom flow in shallow water (2 to 4 feet deep) that transports water carried onto the beach by breaking waves, and is a far lesser threat.
For about 25 yards or so you'll be out of the rip current most about most of the time. And then swimMoreFor about 25 yards or so you'll be out of the rip current most about most of the time. And then swim surf the waves basically back to the beach.
"People start going under because they panic, and they feel like the current is pulling them under," Carey said. "There is no current that will pull you under in the ocean." There are many different types of rip currents, and they form in several ways.
These are the things to look for deeper dark-colored water fewer breaking waves a rippled surfaceMoreThese are the things to look for deeper dark-colored water fewer breaking waves a rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters anything floating out to sea or foamy discolored sandy water flowing out
How to spot a rip current