As longshore currents move on and off the beach, “rip currents” may form around low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as jetties and piers. A rip current is a localized current that flows away from the shoreline toward the ocean.
Because rip currents move perpendicular to shore and can be very strong, beach swimmers need to be careful. A person caught in a rip can be swept away from shore very quickly. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it. A swimmer can also let the current carry him or her out to sea until the force weakens, because rip currents stay close to shore and usually dissipate just beyond the line of breaking waves. Occasionally, however, a rip current can push someone hundreds of yards offshore. The most important thing to remember if you are ever caught in a rip current is not to panic. Continue to breathe, try to keep your head above water, and don’t exhaust yourself fighting against the force of the current.
Town of Palm Beach Ocean Rescue reminds all visitors to our beaches to:
- Swim close to a lifeguard tower. Town Lifeguards are on duty from 9-5 at both Midtown and Phipps Ocean Park Beaches seven days a week.
- Rip currents are frequently stronger during outgoing tides. There is a morning daily beach report that patrons can call for updated beach conditions 561-835-4693.
Visitors to area beaches should also be wary of the presence of Portuguese Man-O-War and the potential for severe beach erosion that can limit beach access and safe wading areas.