Before heading to the beach in Galveston, PLEASE share these pictures with your family and friends – educate them and make them aware of how easy it is to identify a rip current before getting into the water. It’s only a matter of a few feet each way of the point of entry to the water that could mean them being safe or instantly being caught in a rip current. NOTE that at residential beaches along the coast of Galveston such as Beachfront Bliss, there are no lifeguards, so safety is in your own hands.
WHAT IS A RIP CURRENT?
A rip current is a powerful narrow channel of fast-moving water. As you can see in the pictures below, it’s a “rip” between the waves.
- Lifeguards rescue thousands of people every year from rip currents.
- About 100 people die annually because they didn’t know how to get out of a rip current.
BEFORE ENTERING THE BEACH
- When you get to the beach, always take 5-10 mins to observe surf and water conditions and identify where the rip areas are.
- The easiest thing to remember is that often the calmest most enticing-looking area along a beach is usually a rip.
- A rip usually appears darker and deceptively calmer. It can sometimes appear milky or turbulent, but a rip current usually has NO WAVE ACTIVITY. All that water coming in via waves has to go back out somehow, this is what a rip is (see pics).
- You can see the areas between the waves in these photos which are the rip currents.
- The darker/calmer areas in the pics are rips. The one with purple coloring shows rip movement as a visual.
WAYS TO STAY SAFE IF CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT
- If you are caught in a rip, DO NOT PANIC.
- Go into floating mode and raise one arm as a distress signal and yell for help when possible.
- See which direction the rip is taking you, is it straight out or at an angle? Once you have determined this, and if you have the energy, swim to the right or left of the direction of flow, never against.
- Some rips can move at 3 times the speed of an Olympic swimmer. If you cannot swim out to either side of the rip or parallel to the shoreline, just float with the current. Most rips won’t take you out very far, and will usually push you out not long after they take you, so keep calm and save your energy for the swim back to shore.
- Obviously, the safest place to swim is always between the flags on a patrolled beach, but this isn’t always practical given the immensity of our coastline and the number of beautiful beaches without patrol.
- Many other factors can come into play when it comes to beach safety but keep in mind rips are the leading cause of rescues and drownings at the beach.
- They are not hard to identify, and 10 mins observation before entering the ocean is much easier than getting caught in a rip current.
- DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!!
PRAISE & CREDIT
- I credit these rip current safety tips to Kenny Jewel, who is a former surf lifesaver, and am posting it as a public service announcement in hopes that it will educate more people on the importance of beach safety. Thank you Kenny for this information!