If you were planning to head to the Jersey shore or Cape Cod on August 22 and 23, you probably changed your plans. Beaches were closed along the east coast as Hurricane Bill, downgraded by then to a Class I tropical storm, kicked up riptides as it passed.
Riptides, more properly rip currents, are narrow but long bands of water that can pull anything in them quickly out to sea, and they’re potentially deadly. The average swimmer or boarder might not recognize a rip current, but lifeguards do. They look for an area of a lighter green color that may be swirling like a washer, or may look like a flat rippling river. Like a river, the rip current’s fastest flow is in the middle.
Obviously, the easiest way to avoid a riptide is to stay out of the water. But where’s the fun in that? Don’t assume you’re safe if you’re close to shore; rip currents can happen in water that’s knee deep. They can also occur when there aren’t high wave warnings or beach closures, so you need to know what to do if you’re caught in one.
First, don’t panic. That’s easier said than done, but if you stay calm, you’re more likely to survive. Second, don’t try to swim against the current. Doing that will wear you out and exhaustion is the cause of most riptide drownings. Relax, tread water and get your bearings. If you can, swim sideways to the edge of the riptide, where the flow lessens and you can probably get to shore. If you see a large wave coming at you, take a deep breath and go under it. If there’s an undertow, a frequent companion to riptides, do the same thing: take a quick deep breath before you’re pulled under, and relax; you’ll pop up again quickly.
Whether the ocean is calm or choppy, be cool in trunks like these Ryan Spooner Hybrid board shorts . Avoid a rash with an Oakley rashguard shirt, and keep your feet from getting too sandy with these sweet Beachcomber Flip Flops by Ed Hardy.