Following a rash of rip current-related deaths along the mid-Atlantic coast in June, 2017, the Coast Guard and U.S. Lifesaving Association team up to impart to beachgoers the dangers of rip currents and related safety tips. (U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Corinne Zilnicki/Released)

The ocean is a dynamic and powerful force. It’s wonderful to play in but there are dangers. And rip currents are our number on cause of drownings in the U.S. ^A rip current is a channel of water ^moving away from the shore. ^It’s most often caused by breaks in the sand bar ^or obstructions in the water such as piers and jetties. The problem with rip currents is they’re extremely difficult to spot. If you’re in the water, it’s basically impossible. If you’re out on the beach and you’re knowledgeable about rip currents, you may be able to see one. Look for discoloration in the water, murky, debris-filled water, or foamy water that’s moving away from the shore. Any day you can have rip currents but on days where we have higher waves and higher winds the chance for rip currents increases. Rip currents do not pull people under, they just pull them out. If you’re comfortable, swim parallel to shore. When you’re not being pulled out anymore you can easily swim back towards the shore line. If you’re not comfortable with that just keep floating, raise your arms and yell for help. The lifeguards will come and get you. – So this time of year we see an increase in persons in the water search and rescue cases. I think a lot of these are preventable by following our boating safety tips. Always check the weather before you head out. Especially the rip current forecast. Beach conditions can change rapidly so keep up to date. Another good tip to follow is never swim alone and always use the buddy system. When you have kids in the water make sure there is an adult nearby to respond if they’re in trouble. The best tip I can give you, is always head to a beach where a lifeguards on duty. The coast guard is always ready to respond with it’s partner agencies like the local lifeguards. But the best search and rescue case is the one that doesn’t have to happen. So have fun this summer and head to the beach but do so safely.