It is that time of the year again when Mother Nature wakes up more and likes to flex her muscles to show us who is TRULY in charge..lol. Since the hurricane season is getting more in gear now I wanted to remind our visitors of a hidden and silent killer that is just a few steps off the beach. I am talking about Rip Currents. Most people can not spot them with unless you have a trained eye. I just wanted to touch on what causes the deadly currents to form and how to avoid getting in trouble if caught in one.
These currents usually form when there is a Tropical Storm or Hurricane a few hundred miles off the beach. As these storms blow they send out swells well ahead of the storm as the storm pushes forward. Think of it pushing your hand though the water slowly and you will notice the small wave in front of your hand. That is how a storm sends good surf to the beaches. The storm is “pushing” water to the beach.
Now……when these swells cross over the sandbars and reach the beach the water from the waves gets caught or trapped between the beach and sandbars without a way to get back to sea. When enough water gets built up, the water breaks a small channel in the sandbar that is underwater and the water rushes back out to sea very rapidly. The “break” in the sandbar is what causes Rip Currents to form.
Things to remember:
1) Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
2) Never fight the current.
3) Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, of which you need to step to the side.
4) Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle — away from the current — towards shore.
5) If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. 6)When out of the current, swim towards shore.
7) If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
NOTE) Holden Beach does NOT have lifeguards on duty. Please be careful and swim at your own risk.
For a good demonstration of how a rip current works and how to get out of one, please visit this Water Safety site. Click on the “View Flash Presention” in the middle of the page and turn up your speakers.