Rip currents are the greatest danger in oceans

July 28th, 2008 - 2:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 28 (ANI): Experts have indicated that the greatest danger that an ocean poses to humans is most likely rip currents.

Every year, more than 100 beachgoers drown in these strong rushes of water that pull swimmers away from the shore in the US.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), nearly half of all rescues made by lifeguards at ocean beaches are related to rip currents.

Though a common perception is that rip currents pull you underwater, in reality, theyre roughly horizontal currents that gradually suck you further and further from the beach.

They originate when waves break differently at different parts of a shore.

In some places, the waves are strong and in others they are weak. These differing conditions carve out channels in sand bars that lie just off the beach. When water returns to the ocean, it follows the path of least resistance, which is typically through these channels.

This creates a strong and often very localized current capable of sweeping unsuspecting swimmers out to sea.

The currents usually move at one to two feet per second, but stronger ones can pull at up to eight feet per second.

Heavy breaking waves can trigger a sudden rip current, but rip currents are most hazardous around low tide, when water is already pulling away from the beach.

Hurricanes, widely spaced swells, and long periods of onshore wind flow can also drum up stronger than normal currents. These conditions also create larger waves, which sometimes draw more people into the water.

According to experts, It is easy to be caught in a rip current as it happens most often in waist deep water.

A person will dive under a wave, but when they resurface, they find they are much further from the beach and still being pulled away.

Those who understand the dynamics of rip currents advise remaining calm and conserving energy. Thats because a rip current is like a giant water treadmill that you cant turn off, so it does no good to try and swim against it.

The USLA suggests trying to swim parallel to the shore and out of the current. Once youve gotten out of the current, you can begin swimming back to shore.

The USLA also emphasizes anyone planning to swim in the ocean should learn to swim well and never swim alone. (ANI)

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