Another thing I really like about the beach in front of our trailer park is the attention they pay to Rip Currents. From time to time they post these signs. Notice how far apart the red flags are....about 20 feet. The rip current runs between the two flags.
The sign clearly warns people against swimming between the flags.
Then it goes on to explain how to get out of a rip current if you were to find yourself in one.
Understanding rip currents is very important for anyone who wants to surf, swim, snorkel or scuba in rough waters. They are easy to escape if you know what to do and keep your head. Two of our grandchildren are coming to visit us on the 13th of February. These facts along with these flags reminded me of the importance to educate them before sending them out there with their first surfing lesson. Toward that end I cut and pasted the following information from HowStuffWorks.com and won't let either of them go in the ocean until they have read it. :) It's an easy read, and could save your life one day.....enjoy.
"If you get caught up in a rip current, it's crucial that you keep your wits about you. Your first instinct may be to swim against the current, back to shallow waters. In most cases, even if you're a strong swimmer, this will only wear you out. The current is too strong to fight head-on.
Instead, swim sideways, parallel to the beach. This will get you out of the narrow outward current, so you can swim back in with the waves helping you along. If it's too hard to swim sideways while you're being dragged through the water, just wait until the current carries you past the sandbar. The water will be much calmer there, and you can get clear of the rip current before heading back in.
People drown when they thrash about in the water or expend all of their energy swimming. To survive a rip current, or any crisis in the water, you have to keep calm, and you have to conserve your energy. If you don't think you can swim all the way back to the beach, get past the rip current and tread water. Call for help, signal to people on the beach and, if all else fails, wait for the waves to carry you in.
If you're on the beach and see somebody else caught in a rip current, call for help from a lifeguard or the police. Don't immediately dive in and swim out to the person. It's too risky to swim out there yourself unless you have a raft, boogie board or life preserver with you."
"Rip currents are responsible for about 150 deaths every year in the United States. In Florida, they kill more people annually than thunderstorms,hurricanes and tornadoes combined. They are the number-one concern for beach lifeguards: About 80 percent of all beach rescues are related to rip currents.
Despite these startling statistics, many swimmers don't know anything about rip currents, and they have no idea how to survive when caught in one. In this article, we'll find out what causes rip currents, how you can recognize them and what you should do if one takes you out to sea.
A rip current is a narrow, powerful current of water running perpendicular to the beach, out into the ocean. These currents may extend 200 to 2,500 feet (61 to 762 m) lengthwise, but they are typically less than 30 feet (9 m) wide. Rip currents can move at a pretty good speed, often 5 miles per hour (8 kph) or faster.
These currents are often called "riptides," but this is a misnomer. Tides are the rising and falling of water levels in the ocean. They are primarily caused by the moon's gravitational pull and they change gradually and predictably every day. Rip currents are caused by the shape of the shoreline itself, and they may be sudden and unexpected.
Rip currents may also be referred to as "undertow," which is just as inaccurate. Undertow describes a current of water that pulls you down to the ocean bottom. Rip currents move along the surface of the water, pulling you straight out into the ocean, but not underneath the water's surface. A rip current may knock you off your feet in shallow water, however, and if you thrash around and get disoriented, you may end up being pulled along the ocean bottom. But if you relax your body, the current should keep you near the surface.
Rip currents are terrifying because they catch you off guard: One minute you're bobbing along peacefully in the surf, the next you're being dragged out to sea at top speed. They occur in all sorts of weather and on a wide range of beaches. Unlike violent, crashing waves, you probably won't notice a rip current until you're right in the middle of it. "