Rip Current Awareness On The Gulf Coast

The danger that lurks along our beaches
Orange Beach lifeguards post signs as part of their warning to swimmers
Orange Beach lifeguards post signs as part of their warning to swimmers(Hal Scheurich)
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 6:09 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Late April is usually when the beach is on a lot of folks’ minds as the Wiregrass prepares for summer.

Families from near and far head to the beach with different levels of swimming skills and caution. Rip currents might be the least of your worries when you get into the water, but it can be deadly if you are caught off guard.

There are some easy tips from the National Weather Service to follow if you want to lessen your chances of facing down a rip current.

1) Get to your destination with the knowledge of local surf, and tide forecasts.

2) Check the NWS for daily statements regarding waves, dangerous currents, or other beach hazards.

3) Wear a coast guard approved life jacket, and have flotation devices like a boat flotation cushion to use if necessary.

4) Know the address of the beach, as well as the location of the life stations along the beach that have approved life rings that could be thrown to someone in danger.

5) Swim near a lifeguard.

Of course there are beaches all over the United States, but how do our local beaches fare when it comes to rip current fatalities. The coastline mileage of Florida (Atlantic and Gulf) is 8,436 miles, and the number of rip current related deaths is much higher than anywhere in the U.S. Whereas, Alabama has 607 miles of coastline and had about 29 rip current deaths since 1999.

Rip Current Deaths Across Nation (NWS)
Rip Current Deaths Across Nation (NWS)(NWS)

Next time we cover rip currents, I’d like to talk about the science of how they form and what conditions to watch for where they might be favorable. Until then, know your limits and do whatever you can to stay safe in the water, and of course have a good time.

Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.