In our last installation of our Safety Advice Series, we wanted to strike the fear of rip currents into your heart. We hope we were successful.
But not like, you know, too successful. Obviously, we don’t want to traumatize you and make you too afraid to ever go swimming again. There’s a huge difference between being prudently cautious and being inconsolably afraid. The ocean is vast and formidable and probably has a thousand ways that it can kill you, but you don’t have to let that ruin your vacation.
By taking the time to learn about rip currents, you can outsmart the wily ways of the water and make family vacations down here in Fort Lauderdale an annual adventure. If you’re going to take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, then you’re going to want to know how to not only identify a rip current, but also how to escape one.
Spotting rip currents.
The thing that makes rip currents so dangerous is that they look so innocuous. If you don’t know what to look for before you jump in, you could be diving headfirst into a powerful current that can drag you hundreds of meters from the shore.
Before you go swimming, scan the water and look for these telltale clues that there might be a rip current out there.
- A gap in the waves
- A turbulent channel of water
- An area of water that is darker than the surrounding water
- A trail of debris or foam
Any of these clues could point to a rip current.
Swim parallel to the shore.
Instead of trying to swim to shore, instead you need to swim parallel to shore. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but remember, people don’t die in rip currents due to being pulled under. They perish because they reach a point where they can’t swim any longer and succumb to the current.
If you feel exhausted, you can try to relax and float or tread water. The current will actually eventually bring you back to within 50 to 100 meters from the shore, depositing you back to safety. Once you are out of the current, you can then try to swim to shore.
Also, there is absolutely zero shame in screaming your head off for help. Which brings us to our next point…
Don’t swim alone.
There’s this romantic and prevailing notion about straying off the beaten path. We all want our own private slice of beach heaven, free from sweaty tourists and loud crowds. Despite how nice this sounds in theory, it could be a deadly mistake to pursue.
Did you know that lifeguards fish some 30,000 people out of the water each year due to rip currents? Now, try to imagine what would happen if you were trapped in a current and you were all alone.
Go ahead, imagine it. We’ll wait.
Horrifying, isn’t it?
The lifeguards are there to keep you safe. Sure, it can be a little bit maddening to have your fun vacation pictures photobombed by hairy men (or women?) in barely-there swimwear, but don’t think of it like that. Instead of seeing them as annoying neighbors encroaching on your towel, try to picture them as someone who may be the one who alerts the lifeguard if you get pulled out by a rip current.
We’re not snobs here. We love all of our hotel guests, both the locals and the tourists. We’re proud of our fine city, and we want to share it with as many people as possible. That’s why we want you and your family to stay safe when you’re with us. By being prudent about rip currents, you can prevent tragedy from being a blight on your vacation.