Don't let the water 'rip' you offshore

NewsCenter 23

POSTED: Monday, June 9, 2014 - 6:18pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 8:08am

So far in 2014 at South Padre Island, there have been three drownings.

Last Friday, Cameron County Parks Beach Patrol responded to six distress calls and called in over 100 swimmers for swimming in potentially dangerous areas. What makes an area dangerous?

Michael Johnson, Beach Patrol Chief, "A rip current is a current of water going off shore in between sand bars. And what happens is, you have surf coming in and all that energy has to go back off shore. So rip currents, is just simply water going off shore."

With that water, comes force and high amounts of energy. Rip currents can be dangerous to those who do not know how to get out of them. Beach Patrol Chief Johnson says that the number one issue with rip currents, is the lack of education about them. But they are relatively easy to get out of.

Johnson, "Simple, you need to remain calm first off, and then just continue floating. And then once you've regained your composure, try to swim parallel to the shore."

There is an area close to the jetties that has a 24/7 rip current where no swimming allowed. People think that they can swim here only because there are no waves, where that is generally not the case with rip currents.

Where there are no waves, means there is a potential rip current already in place, where the water is rushing out and can pull you with it. Johnson says there are two times where rip currents are more likely to occur.

Johnson, "Rip currents are generally more prevalent during certain times of tides and also depending on surf height. So generally larger surf will produce stronger rip currents because there is more energy."

Chief Johnson advises beach goers to talk to the lifeguards as soon as you get to the beach and they will tell you what areas are safe, and which spots to avoid.

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