Another “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”!

93 swimmers were rescued from rip currents in one weekend last March at Pensacola Beach. Photo credit Brantly Keiek @BrantlyWx
93 swimmers were rescued from rip currents in one weekend last March at Pensacola Beach. Photo credit Brantly Keiek @BrantlyWx

Recently we have reported on heart-breaking drownings off our coast which prompted this plea from the Surfside Beach tourism specialist: We are asking if you would add us to your weather report on the news. When you report dangerous rip currents, can you also mention Surfside? We are just miles from Galveston and have the same water conditions each day.

Like any responsible coastal town, Surfside has extensive warning systems in place alerting swimmers of dangerous conditions. Still, educating the swimmer remains the number one most effective tool to prevent drownings.

This weekend will be an awesome weekend to head to the beach. So with that in mind, here’s a little education. First, know your flags and, if nothing else, red means exactly what you think: DANGER.

Take those red flags seriously!

Rip Currents are pretty much there all the time just not always dangerous. The water flows to the beach, the water heads out and smaller circulating rip currents are in place. It’s the strong Exiting rip currents that can drag you out to sea and those are often obvious by noticing where there are no white caps rolling in:

Notice the white cap rolling in is not present because the water is rolling OUT

Protect Yourself

Basic advice for swimmers is pretty simple, no matter how good a swimmer you think you are:

Good Advice here

You’ve probably seen my next graphic about swimming out of a rip current. Remember, rip currents drag you out, not under. So getting out of the rip current flow is the way to go:

Swim parallel to the coast

The key here is that if you are caught in a rip current, you are basically on a treadmill pulling you out to sea. Swimming back toward the coast only keeps you on that treadmill and tires you out. Swimming away from the coast with the current takes you too far from land. You must swim off the treadmill, so to speak, parallel to the coast.

Enjoy your days at the beach and you know I’m a big supporter of beach time, but if you see those Red Warning Flags then simply Turn Around! Don’t Drown!

Have a safe weekend and Happy Mother’s Day!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.