Two young girls were body boarding off South Beach State Park Wednesday evening when they were caught in a rip current which dragged them out past the surf line. After a while they began screaming for help. While fire rescue personnel were enroute, a private citizen went out after them and was able to pull them back to the beach.
In the top two pictures (click to enlarge), you can see the beginning of the rip current right on the beach (center picture-left side) in a “V” shaped shore wave that points seaward in the direction of the rip current pulling offshore. In the second picture you can see the girls and their rescuer walking straight through the “mouth” of the rip current that starts at the beach and heads out to sea. Anyone caught in that current would be hustled out through the waves very rapidly into deeper water.
Fire rescue personnel say if find yourself in such a current, swim diagonally to the current. You’ll get free of it eventually. Then swim straight toward the beach. But even before you go in the water, watch for tell tale signs of rips currents as pictured to the right. They’re long frothy columns of water that start from the beach and then head straight or diagonally out to sea. When close to shore try to ascertain which way the water is going. If you feel a strong outward or diagonal pull, stay on your feet and walk strongly back to the beach.