It's one thing to get into a dangerous situation at an area where professional help is nearby but what happens if you get caught in a rip in unsupervised waters? Would you know what to do?
June 7-13 is National Rip Current Awareness week. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that rips lead to more than 100 drownings each year and account for 80% of rescues at the nation's beaches each year.
A rip is a strong, channeled current moving away from the shore. They are common, not only along San Diego beaches but most anywhere a large body of water meets the land, even in the Great Lakes.
Rips are formed by ruts in the bottom or seabed, indentations or channels which cause the receding water to move at a stronger, faster pace than the water around it and usually in the opposite direction away from beach. Swimmers often panic when caught in a strong rip and as they try to struggle against it, they tire, become fatigued and ultimately find themselves in an emergency situation.
If caught in a rip, lifeguards warn: don't fight the current, swim out of it at an angle. If you can't escape, float or tread water to conserve energy then wave and call for help. If you allow yourself to panic you could die, so stay calm.
It's for this reason NOAA's National Weather Service, National Sea Grant and the USLA are banning together to bring awareness this week to these potentially dangerous water conditions.