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Rip Current Structure

Safety advice for swimmers

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:

Safety advice for swimmers

  1.  A channel of turbulent water moving out to sea.
  2. An area that has a visibly unusual color, usually due to the swirling sediment form the beach.
  3. A formation of foam, algae, or litter moving uniformly out to sea.
  4. A disturbance in the waveline coming to shore.
  5. 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?

  1.  Learning to swim, or not going into the water if you are not a swimmer.
  2. 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.
  3. Never swimming alone.
  4. Swimming close to lifeguards.
  5. Looking for signs, notices, or warning flags indicating possible dangers to swimmers. Normally red flags will indicate danger.
  6. Talk with lifeguards or locals in the area before entering the water.
  7. Follow all instructions from lifeguards or authorized persons.
  8. Be cautious. Always assume that riptides are present, even if they are not.
  9. If unsure, do not go into the water.

What can I do if a riptide gets old on me?

  1.  Try to stay calm to conserve energy.
  2. Do not fight the current.
  3. Swim perpendicular to the current or parallel to the beach.
  4. Once you feel that you are free of the current, swim to shore.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?

  1. Ask a lifeguard for help.
  2. If there is no a lifeguard, ask someone to call 911, or the Red Cross directly.
  3. Throw the victim something that floats: a cooler, a life jacket, an inflatable ball.
  4. Shout instructions on how to escape.
  5. Do not help directly unless you have specific training. Many have died trying to save others.
  6. Look for information on ocean conditions on various websites.
  7. When you go to the beach, ask the lifeguard, or locals of the possibilities of riptide, or other threats that may arise.


Safety advice for swimmers

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