Advice from RNLI on rip currents at sea
RIP currents are very dangerous when bathing or swimming in the sea.
Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people and debris away from the shallows of the shoreline and out to deeper water.
Unfortunately, RIP currents are where it looks easiest and safest to enter the sea. This is because the rip current is looping around and pulling back out. Hence no waves rolling in. NEVER ENTER THE SEA HERE.
They tend to flow at 1–2mph but can reach 4–5mph, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer.
Rips are especially powerful in larger surf, but never underestimate the power of any water. They are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.
How to spot and avoid a rip current
Rip currents can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea's surface.
Even the most experienced beachgoers can be caught out by rips, so don’t be afraid to ask lifeguards for advice. They will show you how you can identify and avoid rips.
Advice (with videos) from RNLI
If you do find yourself caught in a rip:
- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
- Always raise your hand and shout for help.