With all the recent news about deadly rip currents, let’s talk about how to help a rip current victim without becoming one yourself.
If you see a person being pulled away from the beach, have someone call 911. While that is being done, try to throw a buoyant object to the victim. Examples of this are a body board, cooler, or any other object that will assist the victim in staying afloat.
Do not attempt a swimming rescue unless you have been trained how to rescue a person in the water, are a strong swimmer, and have flotation for the victim to hang on to when you reach them.
If you did swim to the victim empty handed, how will you keep both of you afloat? Do you know how to swim you and the victim back to shore? Being a “strong swimmer” doesn’t mean you know how to rescue them.
While it would be extremely difficult to stand on shore and watch someone drown, many would be rescuers also drown trying to rescue someone else.
Perhaps we need to think of it like a burning building. If you saw a victim in an upper floor window, would you go running in to the building wearing a bathing suit to rescue them? Without the proper training and safety equipment, that would be extremely dangerous.