Rip currents are the greatest danger to beach patrons and account for more than 80 percent of water rescues performed by surf rescue lifeguards. Rip currents cause more deaths each year than shark attacks do each decade. The best defense against drowning is knowing how to swim. Swimming in a pool is NOT the same as swimming at a surf beach with crashing waves, winds and dangerous currents. The conditions in the Gulf of Mexico can change very quickly, and you should be a strong swimmer before entering the water.
What is a Rip Current?
Rip currents are powerful channels of water that are caused by breaks in the sandbar just offshore. Currents flowing away from the coast move fastest where the sandbar is reduced or not present and the water is deeper. Always swim near a lifeguard and ask them where it is safest to swim. If lifeguards are not present, attempt to stay on the sandbars and avoid the area between sandbars where the water color is typically darker. Avoid swimming near piers and jetties where permanent rip currents are present.