LONG BRANCH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Already this summer, four children have lost their lives after venturing into the ocean.
In an effort to keep you safe on shore, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock found out what you should look out for to steer clear of rip currents.
“There have been a lot of incidents lately and honestly when you get pulled under it’s really scary,” Michelle White, of White House Station, New Jersey, said.
She knows from experience. It happened to her and her mother-in-law on a family vacation to Mexico.
“I was trying to help her, and she was dragging me under,” she said, “We were pulled out and could not get ourselves in.”
They were caught in a rip current — a fast moving channel of water that can carry you away from shore.
Humans cannot out-swim a rip current. They move as fast as 8 feet per second, Murdock reported.
Michael Phelps can’t fight a rip current, he swims at 7 feet per second,” professor Jon Miller, of Stevens Institute of Technology, explained.
Miller said when waves crash on the shore, the water looks for the easiest way back out to sea. Rip currents are most likely along jetties, or breaks in sand bars. Bigger waves mean a more powerful rip.
To spot one, look for sand being pulled away from shore.
“If you see a place where the waves aren’t breaking — which is important because parents will let their kids swim there — it will often be the sign of a rip current,” Miller said.
Long Branch Beach Manager Danny George said along one stretch of shore lifeguards have rescued more than 50 people this season.
“It sounds scary, right? Because you can’t really swim against it,” Woodbury resident Rich Zika said. “Don’t panic, don’t exert energy by panicking.”
“What we see when we come in is much different from 12,” he said.
That’s first and most important — then swim parallel to shore until the rip let’s you go from its grip.
George stresses, everyone should learn when lifeguards are on duty, and plan accordingly.
“Information is everything,” he said.