24 September 2013 on Advice by Rent a Car Costa Rica
Safety advice for swimmers
How can you identify a riptide?
It is difficult for the average tourist, but here are a few things to look for:
- A channel of turbulent water moving out to sea.
- An area that has a visibly unusual color, usually due to the swirling sediment form the beach.
- A formation of foam, algae, or litter moving uniformly out to sea.
- A disturbance in the waveline coming to shore.
- One or all of the aforementioned, however, may not be visible. This is the case with beach that have thick sediment or white-sand beaches like Cocles beach on the Caribbean side and the interior beaches of Manuel Antonio, to name a few.
How can people avoid problems with these currents?
- Learning to swim, or not going into the water if you are not a swimmer.
- If you like to surf, you should know how to swim in conditions that surf areas present. It is not the same as swimming in a lake or swimming pool.
- Never swimming alone.
- Swimming close to lifeguards.
- Looking for signs, notices, or warning flags indicating possible dangers to swimmers. Normally red flags will indicate danger.
- Talk with lifeguards or locals in the area before entering the water.
- Follow all instructions from lifeguards or authorized persons.
- Be cautious. Always assume that riptides are present, even if they are not.
- If unsure, do not go into the water.
What can I do if a riptide gets old on me?
- Try to stay calm to conserve energy.
- Do not fight the current.
- Swim perpendicular to the current or parallel to the beach.
- Once you feel that you are free of the current, swim to shore.
- If unable to do the aforementioned, wade in the water. The force of the current lessens as it goes out to sea. When the current diminishes, swim toward the shore.
- If, at any moment, you feel that you cannot reach the shore, get someone attention: face the beach, wave your arms and shout for help.
How can you help someone being dragged by a riptide?
- Ask a lifeguard for help.
- If there is no a lifeguard, ask someone to call 911, or the Red Cross directly.
- Throw the victim something that floats: a cooler, a life jacket, an inflatable ball.
- Shout instructions on how to escape.
- Do not help directly unless you have specific training. Many have died trying to save others.
- Look for information on ocean conditions on various websites.
- When you go to the beach, ask the lifeguard, or locals of the possibilities of riptide, or other threats that may arise.