Cumberland Times-News

Columns

June 24, 2014

Riptides

Be safe when you’re swimming in the ocean

Many tri-state area residents typically vacation in Ocean City, Virginia Beach or Myrtle Beach during the summer. Two recent riptide drownings in Ocean City should make beach-goers more cautious of the ocean.

The drowning victims were an 18-year-old Montgomery County teen who perished June 2 and a 17-year-old Baltimore County teen who died June 13. Both were dragged underwater by strong riptides.

Ocean City Beach Patrol personnel recovered both victims and made vain attempts to resuscitate the youths.

A riptide is described as a strong channel of water flowing seaward from near the shore, typically through the surf line. The water movement flows faster than humans can swim.

The National Weather Service has these tips to stay safe from riptides:

• Never swim alone.

• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out!

• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard protected beach.

• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

• If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.

• Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore.

• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.

• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself:  face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

• If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1 . Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

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