Rip currents are a significant cause of beach rescues, surpassing dangers from jellyfish and sharks. Recently, there were multiple incidents involving rip currents in Florida resulting in fatalities. The National Weather Service has reported numerous rip current-related incidents in U.S. waters this year, affecting areas such as Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas. Annually, rip currents contribute to approximately 100 drownings in the U.S., with over 80 percent of beach rescues attributed to them. These currents can form near low spots on the beach, jetties, or piers, and can occur in both calm and stormy conditions. They can move as fast as eight feet per second, posing a challenge even to strong swimmers.

Experts advise that if caught in a rip current, it is important not to panic. Instead of attempting to swim directly back to shore, which can lead to exhaustion, swimmers should swim parallel to the shore to escape the current. Beaches use colored flags to indicate the level of danger: red for high hazard, yellow for moderate threat, green for low danger, purple for dangerous marine life, and double red flags indicating the beach is closed. The National Weather Service provides updates on rip current risks and can forecast them up to six days in advance for various coastal areas. Authorities strongly discourage untrained individuals from attempting rescues and recommend seeking assistance from lifeguards or calling 911 instead. For safety, beachgoers should swim near lifeguard stations, avoid swimming alone, ensure adult supervision, and accurately assess their swimming abilities.