Video: How to escape a rip current

Experts say the first thing to do is make sure you don’t panic

Rip currents have claimed the lives of 60 people so far this year in the U.S., including two Texas teenagers in March, but there are steps you can take to help get out of a rip current if you ever find yourself in danger.

Data from the National Weather Service shows rip currents were the third-leading cause of weather fatalities from 2013 to 2023.

Being a good swimmer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious when entering the ocean.

Gregory Dusek, Senior Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service said it’s a common misconception that rip currents suck you under the water.

“They don’t pull you under the water. That’s kind of a common misconception. People think they suck you under the water but they don’t. They just kind of pull you away from shore,” said Dusek.

Video in the media player above details steps you can take if you are caught in a rip current that can help you escape.

Steps experts say you can take to escape a rip current:

  • Don’t panic.
  • Don’t try to swim against the current - it may lead to exhaustion.
  • Swim parallel to the beach until the ocean doesn’t feel like it has a pull on you.
  • Swim back to the shore at an angle and let the waves pull you back in.
  • If you are tired or can’t swim, relax and float.

“I know that sounds counter-intuitive. People want to try to get back to shore but you want to relax and float,” said Dusek. “Some people might not be strong swimmers or you might be tired and feel like you can’t keep swimming and so if you can just float, stay on the surface of the water and look back to shore and call and wave for help that will give a chance to for public safety personnel to come and rescue you.”