How Avoid & Get Out Of Rip Currents

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bodysurfers guide to rip currents

Rip Currents: Knowledge saves lives

Rip Currents occur in even the most beautiful beaches, spot the rip at sandy's beach on Oahu in the above image.

As we are in this strong El Nino year, high surf and strong currents can be expected along the entire West Coast of the US..

With high surf and sandy ocean bottoms, one of the most dangerous factors in the surf zone can be created, a rip current. In general, a rip current can be easily avoided and gotten out of if you have the right knowledge.

Let’s get you ready to recognize a rip current, when you’re in one, how to get out of a it.

What Is a Rip Current?


Water wants to travel the path of least resistance, in most cases that will be a trough in the bottom of the ocean that leads out to sea. When a wave breaks and sends water to shore it has to get back out to the ocean in some way or another and these troughs provide the path of least resistance.

The wave has crashed and the water is looking to get back out into the ocean, as it is traveling out it “finds” a depression in the ocean bottom that allows a quicker and easier exit. This process will cause the rip current. image courtesy of  the NOAA

How To Spot a Rip Current From Shore?

The easiest way to know if there are rip currents will be the warning signs posted at the beach. However regardless of that you will want to become accustomed to spotting a rip current from the shore on any beach, look for a section of brown choppy water that is not getting a lot of wave activity.

Simply head out for your session away from the rip current and you should not have to worry, unless in a rare case a new rip current forms right where you are.

Reduce the risk

What To Do If You Get Stuck In a Rip Current?

If you do happen to get stuck in a rip current there is an easy and effective way to get out of it before you get into any serious trouble. The worst thing to do is panic!

What Beaches Are Most Likely to Have Rip Currents?

The presence and strength of rip currents will vary from beach to beach.

There are countless numbers of factors that lead to rip currents but the two most important are the type of wave and the bottom. If there is shorebreak breaking almost on the sand then rip currents are not something to be worried about, but if it is a wave breaking on the outside with a sand bottom then rip currents are something to be looked out for.

Ranking the most rip current prone beaches from least prone to most prone would be:

How Avoid & Get Out Of Rip Currents When Bodysurfing
Rocky/Reef bottom

How Avoid & Get Out Of Rip Currents When Bodysurfing
Reef/Sand bottom

How Avoid & Get Out Of Rip Currents When Bodysurfing
Mostly Sand bottom with some Rocks

How Avoid & Get Out Of Rip Currents When Bodysurfing
All Sand bottom

Hopefully you now feel more prepaid to deal with rip currents, spot them, and get out of them.

Now get out there and have fun, look out for the rip currents but do not let the fear of getting stuck in one ruin your session, why should you, you know how to get out of one!

For more information on rip currents and other marine safety visit the


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