Rip Current Rescue Huntington Beach Lifeguard Rescue Video

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Huntington Beach--Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lifeguard rip current rescues are common--

While we were out covering a story about Marine Safety, we saw the lessons in action that we were taught. Two body boarders were caught in rip currents and felt they couldn't get out. The beach rescue we captured on video is but one of countless such instances that occur regularly, especially in California, where rip currents are greatest.


The number one danger in Huntington Beach is rip currents. At a recent public education day, part of National Marine Safety Week celebrations, lifeguards and marine safety professionals shared displays and information with the public about beach safety at Huntington's city beaches. 


And not far out the door near the Huntington Beach Pier rip currents caught unsuspecting swimmers and body boarders, requiring rescues from these strong waves that pull people away from shore. Between 65% and 80% of rescues on U.S. surf beaches are attributed to rip currents. More deadly than lighting, hurricanes and tornadoes combined, rip currents do not commonly create undertow, so you should not panic or fear that you'll be dragged under water. What rip currents do is a function of what they are. As the waves hit shore and the excess energy from them pushes back in the water the opposite direction, people caught in those currents are pulled toward the sea. Examples include divers who find themselves much farther out from the shore than when they dove down, or people with body boards taken for rides. That's when panic can set in.


The prevalence and severity of rip currents is greatest in California. According to NOAA, there were over 40,000 rescues in California in a recent year with over 80% due to rip currents. The drownings were almost 8 times higher at unguarded beaches (California State Parks reported 71% of all drownings because state parks and beaches don't always have lifeguard service. In Huntington Beach, two state beaches of the California State Parks do have lifeguard service, however.)

What causes rip currents is energy pushed towards the shoreline as waves break. Displaced water will move along the beach with the long shore current until it finds its way back out to sea. This causes the rip current. Rip currents are narrow, river-like currents that have been fed by the long shore current and sets of waves. Rip currents are between 50 feet and 50 yards wide and can flow up to hundreds of yards past the surfline.

Rip currents were first identified by lifeguards and information on the phenomenon was first published in the 1930's.

How to help someone caught in a rip current by:

If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard.
If no lifeguard is available, have someone call 9-1-1.
Throw the rip current victim something that floats – a lifejacket, a cooler, a ball.
Yell instructions on how to escape.
Many have drowned trying to help others. Don't become a victim while trying to help someone else!