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Public Service Announcement from the United States Coast Guard - Rip Currents, A Real Danger!

Tragic water accidents happen quickly. One of the quickest and most dangerous situations for swimmers and surfers is the RIP CURRENT. They are powerful currents of water that pull victims away from the beach and can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second. On average, more people die every year from rip currents than from shark attacks, tornadoes or lightning. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.

A rip current is a seaward moving current that circulates water back to sea after it is pushed ashore by waves. Each wave accumulates water on shore creating seaward pressure. This pressure is released in an area with the least amount of resistance which is usually the deepest point along the ocean floor. Rip currents frequently exist in areas where the strength of the waves are weakened by objects such as rock jetties and piers.

The Ocean City Beach Patrol is regularly called upon to assist swimmers caught in these dangerous rip currents. Recently, the lifeguards have had to call upon the U.S. Coast Guard to assist them in rescuing swimmers caught in these dangerous currents that occur up and down the Ocean Beach.

Both the Beach Patrol and the Coast Guard encourage all those who enjoy the beach to be aware of rip currents and to take steps to insure that everyone will return to enjoy another day on the beach.

  • Swim at a lifeguard protected beach.
  • Never swim alone.
  • If caught in a rip current:
    • Remain calm. Do not fight against the current.
    • Swim parallel to the shoreline until out of the rip current.
    • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water.
    • When out of the current, swim towards shore. If you are unable to reach shore, wave your arms for help.
    • If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard or call 9-1-1. Throw a life jacket, cooler, or other item that floats to the victim.

The intent of this notice is to raise public awareness regarding the potential hazards associated with “rip currents.” For more information contact: U.S. Coast Guard Station Ocean City located at 610 South Philadelphia, Ocean City, or phone (410) 289-1905.


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Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 | Tele: (410) 222-7000