Your Outer Banks vacation should be great experience, where you make the best memories. Therefore, please, educate yourself on the dangers of rip currents before you hit the beach.
Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves and most often form at low spots or breaks in sandbars and near structures like piers, jetties and groins. According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association (USLA), more than 80 percent of the surf beach rescues performed by lifeguards each year involve rip currents.
They are not always easy to identify, but signs of rip currents include a break in the pattern of incoming waves; a channel of churning, choppy water; an area with a noticeably different water color; and a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward.
Rips are fast-moving currents of water that can pull even the strongest swimmer away from the shore. According to the USLA, rip currents account for at least 100 deaths each year at U.S. surf beaches.
If caught in a rip current, always stay calm and don't fight the current. Escape the current by swimming horizontal to the shoreline, not toward the shore. Once free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore. If you are unable to escape by swimming horizontally to the shoreline, float or tread water. When the current weakens, swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore. Always try to get someone else's attention if caught in a rip current. You may not be able to escape the current yourself but someone else's help could save your life.
Watch these short videos and look at the infographic below to learn more about rip currents: