Rip Current Safety

Are you headed to the beach this summer? While it’s a fun time for the whole family, the ocean can be dangerous for both adults and children. Each year, more than 100 beachgoers drown because of rip currents, which are strong currents of water that pull swimmers away from shore. Before your family’s toes hit the sand, talk with your children about rip currents.

  • First and foremost, make sure your children are strong swimmers before they go into the ocean. The ocean is much different than swimming in a pool, as the waves, current and winds can tire them out faster.
  • Teach your children how to spot a rip current. Some possible identifiers for rip currents are a change of color in the water, seaweed, debris or foam moving quickly out to sea, choppy or churning water, and/or a break in the pattern of an incoming wave.
  • Do not let your children swim near jetties, piers or other structures, as these are common rip current spots.
  • Before going down to the beach, check the National Weather Service Surf Zone Forecast or local sources for beach forecasts.
  • Once at the beach, look for warning signs or flags, and make sure your children always swim near lifeguards.

Unfortunately, rip currents are common, so be sure to share the below tips with your children on how to survive a rip current:

  • Always remain calm.
  • Do not attempt to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to the shoreline. When you escape the pull of the rip current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • Don’t fight the current – relax and float to conserve energy.
  • If you are getting tired and feel that you can’t reach shore, call or wave for help.


The National Weather Service has videos, games and activities that help children and teens learn about rip currents.