NOAA and Sea Grant Raise Awareness of 'The Grip of the Rip'
Coastal Processes & Hazards - News

New York, NY, June 2, 2013 - The water looks ready for a swim, but there may be a danger awaiting those who enter.

With this being the start of "Rip Current Awareness Week" (June 2-8, 2013), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Sea Grant Program, the United States Lifesaving Association, and the National Park Service remind you that there are things you can do to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time at the beach or seashore this summer.

As seen in the NOAA Ocean Today video clip below, the potentially deadly force known as "rip currents" is the #1 safety threat at beaches.

Rip currents are fast, powerful channels of water flowing away from the beach and out past the breaking waves. And before you realize it, you can get dragged out far from the shore.

The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second; this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint! On average, more people die every year from rip currents than from shark attacks or lightning. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.

They can be really hard to spot, so exercise caution if you see the following:

  • a channel of churning, choppy water;
  • an area with a noticeable difference in color;
  • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily out to sea;
  • and/or a break in the incoming wave pattern.

If you get caught in one:

  • Stay calm, don't fight the current.
  • Swim sideways out of the current and parallel to the shore, then at an angle back to the shore.

If you can’t escape it:

  • Float or calmly tread water. The rip current will eventually fade.
  • Try to face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

If you see someone caught in one, DO NOT try to rescue them yourself, instead:

  • Get a lifeguard or call 911.
  • Yell instructions.
  • And if possible, throw a life preserver or floatation device.

These things may help you save a life.

The ocean can be a source of fun and excitement, but you should always be careful of hazards that exist. Only swim at lifeguard protected beaches. Before your next trip to the beach, know how to spot a rip current and how to break the grip of the rip.

Remember that, as seen in this video clip below from Minnesota Sea Grant, rip currents can surface in the Great Lakes, too.

For more on how you can "Break the Grip of the Rip," check out New York Sea Grant's related resources site,

Also, NOAA, Sea Grant's parent organization, features a collection of news on the topic at

And the United States Lifesaving Association offers a survey and survival tips at

More Info:

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, and Currents, its e-newsletter supplement, each distributed 3-4 times a year.

Home *  What is NYSG? *  Research *  Extension *  Education *  News & Events *  Publications
  Grants & Policies * Staff * NYSG Sites *  Related Sites * (631) 632-6905

Problems viewing our Site? Questions About our Site's Social Media / Other Features? - See Our Web Guidelines

For NYSG Staff ... SharePoint * Site Administration