Local News

Jun 13, 2013 7:49 PM by Jessica Holley - jholley@kristv.com

Dangers of Rip Currents

NUECES COUNTY - Strong underwater currents is said to be what caused the drowning deaths of four men in Gulf Waters last weekend in Alabama.

It can feel like the hands the water pulling out to sea. If you aren't careful rip currents can turn a fun day at the beach into a deadly one.

"Rip currents have a direct correlation with wave height and swell period. So the bigger the waves are the greater the chance you have for rip current. Right now we have a moderate risk for rip current," says beach supervisor Mike Smith.

Experts say rip currents account for more than 80 percent of rescues performed by beach lifeguards.

Rip currents often form near sandbars, piers, and jetties.

Rip currents pull swimmers away from shore, so to free yourself Smith says to swim parallel to the beach until you are free.

Sunil Punjavi knows first hand the strength of the underwater current. It's why he never sends his kids out in to the Gulf alone.

"It's a scary feeling that's for sure. And you don't really, it's hard to get out of once you are in it because it really kind of the ocean pulling at you and it's the huge current," says Sunil Punjavi, visiting for San Antonio.

While instinct tells you to rescue anyone who may have been swept out into the water, Smith says don't become part of the problem.

"You don't want to put your life in danger if you have some sort of flotation device it's better to throw it to them instead," says Smith.

If you get caught up in a rip current experts first say stay calm. If you are a strong swimmer, swim parallel with the beach rather straight in to the shoreline. If not, experts say try and float and call for help.


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