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Labor Day safety tips for beach goers

As Labor Day approaches, here are some safety tips for those planning to go swimming at the beach.

One of the most coveted holidays of the year is drawing near.

And while many people are preparing to hit the roads for some fun in the sun and to crank up the grills, others are dusting off their bathing suits and planning to sick their feet into the cool and wet sand at our neighboring beaches.

Rip currents are a common danger found along our gulf shores, so let’s discuss a little safety ahead of your trip.

Here are ways to spot rip currents:

The National Weather Service defines rip currents as strong, narrow, seaward flows of water that travel along break waves, act as “rivers of the sea” and extend from close to the shoreline to outside of the surf zone.

Often times, rip currents can be difficult to spot, but generally have some white caps churning as water rushes from the shore back out to sea. They may occur along sandbars, deep channels, jetties, headlands, piers, straight or even embayed beaches and motion away from the shore in circulatory fashion.

Some common misconceptions of rip currents are:

1. Being considered rip tides.

  • Rip currents and rip tides are separate phenomena. Tides rise and fall slowly on a large-scale that occurs over the course of several hours.

2. Pulling unsuspecting victims underwater.

  • Rip currents do not pull you underwater. Often panicking, exhaustion, and being hit by other ways causes a person to slip under the water.

3. Being a skilled swimmer and avoiding being harm or seriously put in danger.

  • Even skilled swimmers may perish in a rip current if they do not perform the proper skills to get out of a rip current.

To keep you, your family, and your friends safe in the event of rip current risks, only swim when a lifeguard is present. Also, just because the sky condition forecast looks ideal for a beach day, does not mean that there aren’t present dangers for the water. Check water conditions before going in and monitor the local beach forecast.

If you should be caught in a rip current, first try hard to relax. Do not swim directly toward shore. Swim parallel to the shoreline. If you feel your efforts are not producing positive results and you cannot reach shore, relax, attempt to face the shore, and call or wave for help.