What is a Riptide?

By Gary Cutlack on at

News from the last few days makes for grim reading, as several deaths of swimmers around the UK's coastlines have been reported. One of the most common causes of coastal death is the riptide, a dangerous current that pulls swimmers out to sea.

Riptides, or rip currents, are areas where the crashing waves form a narrow stretch of tidal water that flows quickly away from the shore. Get stuck in one of these and you might suddenly find yourself out of your depth, rushing further out to sea, and in quite considerable danger.

This video explains how to spot one:

The trick to spotting one seems to be watching the surface foam to see if it's travelling out to sea under its own power, which could indicate that anyone floating on the surface might also be in danger of getting pulled out with it.

On the offchance you're beach body ready enough to go in to the sea, the key advice when noticing you've drifted out is to swim parallel to the shore. This might get you out of the danger zone and into more predictable waters where you can make your way back to shallower areas.

Image credit: Wikipedia

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