How to avoid rip currents

By Mark Leberfinger, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
May 30, 2016; 10:07 AM ET
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Millions will head to the beat this summer to soak up the sun's rays and cool off in the ocean's waves.

But, summer means that lifeguards along the East and Gulf coasts are prepared to deal with one of the ocean's greatest dangers: rip currents.

Rip currents are narrow, fast-moving channels of water that move away from the beach due to irregularities along the shoreline such as sandbars and piers, AccuWeather Meteorologist Andy Mussoline said.

Rip currents are dangerous year-round, not just in the summer. Capt. Julio Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Fire Department told CBS that 80 percent of their rescues happen in rip currents.

Rip currents are shown along a crowded beach on the Delaware shore. (Photo/NWS/Courtesy of Dr. Wendy Carey, Delaware Sea Grant).

"Rips are a predictable hazard," Ocean Rescue Supervisor David Elder of the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department said. "With accurate and timely information, lifeguards work to decrease exposure to the hazards of not only rip currents, but all beach hazards."

If caught in a rip current, the best thing to do is to swim parallel to the shore out of the rip current, Elder said.

"Don't fight the current: It's basically like being on a treadmill," he said. "Once out of the current, swim back to the shore."

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The best way to survive a rip current is to be able to identify them and avoid them. However, if you find yourself caught in one, use these tips to safely escape:

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