Break the Grip of the Rip: Teaching Your Kids About Rip Currents

Rip Current

Rip currents (or rip tides as they are often called) are a top worry now that my two preschoolers are “swimming” regularly at Tybee Island beaches.

Which is why I’m thrilled that Tybee  Island marine scientist/biologist Dr. Joe Richardson, who leads Tybee Island Beach Ecology Trips , agreed to offer some info for on rip current awareness.

This week June 5-11 is Rip Current Awareness Week. Rip currents are strong narrow currents moving away from shore. The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second; this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint! On average, more people die every year from rip currents than from shark attacks. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.

Dr. Joe Richardson recommends checking out the information, graphics, video and other resources on the NOAA Web site by clicking here so you can try to recognize a rip current and teach your kids what to do if caught in one. Click here to go to the Kids Korner Rip Current Safety page.  

Another concern, according to Dr. Joe Richardson, are strong tidal currents, especially at the north and south ends of Tybee Island (ie. North Beach near the jetty, and South Beach from about 17th St. to the south end of the island). 

“These currents can be surprisingly strong, and they don’t move at a constant speed.  At irregular times and places they move faster, so someone noticing that they are gradually drifting along the beach might find that they are suddenly drifting much faster,” said Dr. Joe Richardson. “This can be extremely dangerous because it might take only a few seconds to suddenly realize that you are too close to the jetty/rocks or the pier to get back to shore or shallow enough water to stand.  I’m afraid that I see this happen too often. And this keeps our lifeguards and ocean rescue people especially busy at the north and south end.”

Read more of Dr. Joe Richardson’s Guest Posts here, including which jellyfish in our local waters sting and which don’t.

Tybee  Island marine scientist/biologist Dr. Joe Richardson, who leads Tybee Island Beach Ecology Trips . These beach walks are an excellent way to educate your kids and entertain your visitors.  Read a list of activities and topics the beach ecology walk covers by clicking here.  To book a family, scout, school and tour group beach walk call (912) 596-5362 or email . For updates regarding what Dr. Joe is finding and doing on his ecology beach walks, check out (and “like”) the “Tybee Beach Ecology Trips” FACEBOOK page by clicking here.

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