Video: Heading to the beach? See our rip current survival guide first

A rip current is a narrow, fast-moving channel of water that starts near the beach and extends offshore through the line of breaking waves.

Sometimes referred to (incorrectly) as "rip tides," rip currents can turn a fun beach day tragic and deadly.

In this video, we captured footage of actual rip currents, so you can see what one looks like from the point of view of the beach. Please watch it before heading into the water.

How do you survive being caught up in a rip current?

  • Don't fight the current. It's a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1 to 2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer.
  • Relax and float to conserve energy. Staying calm could save your life.
  • Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim along (parallel to) the shoreline until you escape the current's pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current and toward shore.
  • If you feel you can't reach shore, relax, face the beach, and yell and wave for help. Remember: If in doubt, don't go out! Always swim at a beach that has a lifeguard on duty. 

See our online survival guide for tips and images you can share. Safe swimming!