I'm a good swimmer.  I grew up around water, and when I was younger, I was a lifeguard at our community pool.

I'm even a certified diver.  I don't have a fear of the water.

However, the day in Beach Haven that I was caught in a rip tide, was one of the more scary moments I experienced.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines a rip tide as a powerful narrow channel of fast-moving water.

They are typically about the same length as a pool, and about 30 feet wide.

They can occur spontaneously, and without getting complicated, the important thing to know about rip tides is that they pull you out into the ocean with a speed and force that is nearly impossible for even the best swimmers to swim against.

People who get into trouble panic and try to swim to shore.

Lifeguards say that rip tides account for tens of thousands of rescues yearly.  The NOAA estimates more than 100 people lose their lives to rip currents each year.

Experts say surviving a rip tide isn't difficult if you know what to do.

When someone is caught in a rip tide, the immediate natural reaction is to panic.

Stay Calm.  Get a bearing on your surroundings.  You want to swim parallel to the beach.

In other words, as you swim, the beach should be on one side and the ocean on the other.

Photo: NOAA
Photo: NOAA

Most rip tides are only 30 feet wide.  Keep swimming until you are out of the current.

Lifeguards warn that children should never be left to swim by themselves.  You should only swim in areas where lifeguards are on duty.

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