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Riptide Warning

There may be another danger creeping up on you in the water: rip currents. There are some things you can do to avoid becoming a victim.

Perry Finley, a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, is visiting St. George Island's pristine white sandy beaches. He has vacationed here for 15 years and he's well aware of what a rip current can do.

Perry says, "It's just feels like you're being pulled out. You can't make it to shore."

So what exactly is a rip current, and how can it pull even the strongest swimmer out so easily?

Mike Watson, a surfline.com meteorologist, says, "Rip currents form when you have wave activity, and as the wave pushes forward to the beach, the water needs to recede and push back out, and as it pushes out we get a river of water."

Watson says one way to detect potential rip currents before you start swimming is to see if there are sets of waves approaching in an otherwise flat ocean, but what should you do if you're caught in an unexpected rip tide?

Mike Watson says, "First and foremost, do not panic. The water will pull you out and you can't fight it. It's too strong. The best thing is to lay on your back and let the current take you out."

Once the current stops pulling you out, you will be able to swim back to shore safely. Watson also says to check with a lifeguard at the beach to see if the rip current potential is high.


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