Image: Joe Shlabotnik/Creative Commons
Earlier this week, super-model mom and television host Heidi Klum was lauded for rescuing her 7-year-old son, Henry, and two nannies from a riptide while swimming in Hawaii. People magazine reported that Klum made a statement saying that the three were pulled out into the ocean by a big wave. As someone who can see the ocean in the distance from my home, I am massively aware of its power, and there are few things scarier than a riptide or the similar rip currents. But what's scary about a riptide is that it can come on quickly and your natural instincts as to how to get out of it are what can actually make the situation gravely worse. Do you know the right way to get yourself and your family out of a riptide?
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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a riptide occurs when a tidal event creates an excess of water between the shore and a submerged sandbar. When the water reaches its maximum volume, it finds a low point in the sandbar and rushes out to sea, pulling everything in its path with it. When being dragged away from shore, it is natural that you'd try to swim against the current and try to get back to the land, but that's actually the worst thing you can do when caught in a riptide. The reason being that you aren't going to get anywhere, but you are likely to wear yourself out before you get to shore which increases your risk of drowning.
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The proper way to escape a riptide is to swim parallel to shore to get out of the tide's pull and then swim towards shore in an area of water that does not have the pull of the riptide. If you are struggling to stay afloat, the best thing to do is to float on your back until someone can get out to help you.
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Whether you live near the ocean or just visit it on occasion, it's important that you know how to safely make your way out of a riptide. Life guards rescue thousands of people from these tidal occurrences every year, but not everyone makes it, and that is almost always because they don't know the proper way to get out of it and become fatigued. Protect your family and tuck this information away in the back of your head for your next trip to the beach.