Tuesday, December 2, 2003
What Would You Do: Rip Currents
Winter often brings strong winds to South Florida, and those winds produce dangerous rip currents at the beach. The Nightteam's Charles Perez presents what to do, if you get caught by the current. It's a scene that plays itself out all too often along the beaches of South Florida.
(WSVN) -- "The way he died, he didn't deserve it that way."
A fun day at the beach turns deadly when a swimmer underestimates the power of the waves.
Vincent Andreano who works in Beach Patrol: "Eightypercent of all the drowning deaths in the ocean are related to rip currents."
But what are rip currents?
"It's a pathway for the water to go back out to sea," saysVincent.
They form because on windy days like this one ... Ocean water comes pounding in but needs a channel to get back out.
"It could be about 40-feet wide, or even greater than that," says Vincent.
Often times, you don't know you're in a rip current until it's too late.
If you don't know what you're doing, a rip current could kill you," says Vincent. "You might be going further and further out to sea."
"Even though you're swimming in?" says Charles.
So what do you do?
At that point ... The key is to get out of the rip current. And, the only way to escape the channel of water is to swim parallel to the shore.
"Once you break free of it you'll start swimming at a diagonal and swim your way back in," says Vincent.
Now we know what a rip current is, we know what we're supposed to do to save our lives, I'm going to put it to the test. I'm going in...
We swam out directly into a rip current.
Before I knew it, I was way offshore. The wave action - tiring ... and swimming straight towards the shore got me no where fast.
Then a life guard gave us the signs on which way to swim.
I will admit it's hard to overcome instinct.
But I was able to get out of the current and make it safely to the beach.
I'm telling you, this was much stronger than I ever thought it would be. If you don't know what you're doing it could cost you your life.
So if you see these warning flags ...
"Swim where there is a life guard, because they'll be able to recognize when someone's in trouble," says Vincent.
And if you go in the water ... Stay in close.
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