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Rip current awareness week

READ MORE: Rip current awareness week
This week is rip current awareness week and we wanted to make sure that you know all the basics about rip currents. Rip currents are a narrow channel of water that pulls a swimmer out to sea. They form when water comes in over a sandbar. The water needs a way to get out, so it breaks a narrow channel in the sandbar creating a dangerous scenario for swimmers. Rip currents can carry a swimmer out to sea at up to 5 knots, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim, so the average person can not swim against them. So what should you do if you are caught in a rip current? The first thing you want to do when caught in a rip current is to not panic. You want to stay calm and not fight the current. Next thing you want to do is swim parallel to the beach and try to come in. If that doesn't work, you want to stay calm and cry out for help and a lifeguard will come and get you. There are certain times of the day when the rip current risk is higher. An hour before and after low tide is when we have the highest risk of rip currents -- along with heavier surf conditions. To know when conditions are right for a strong rip current, check the color of the flag on the lifeguard stands. Lifeguards fly green for calm conditions, yellow for caution and red for dangerous conditions. During red conditions lifeguards advise all swimmers to stay out of the water -- there is a high risk of rip currents and heavy surf. So beware of the rips and stay safe this swimming season. You can also find the rip current risk as part of the coastal marine forecast, which is on our website at

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