Friday, August 20, 2010

Relax, Don't Do It

Straying a little from ocean conservation but still within the realm, a word about rip tides. To protect the ocean is to love it, and to love it is to not fear it irrationally. Respect it for sure, in every sense of the word. It is big and powerful and dangerous.

With rip tides forming in isolated areas along the Atlantic coast this August, like every August, it is easy to irrationally fear them. So maybe a quick lesson on rip tides will help with the "love it and not fear it irrationally" part.

If you get caught in a rip tide, RELAX. Like Frankie Goes to Hollywood sang, "Relax, don't do it," as in don't try to swim back to shore against the strong pull of a rip tide. The ocean always wins those battles.

Rip tides don't suck people underwater. People die in rip tides because they become exhausted and drown. This happens because they panic, which exerts more energy, and they try to fight the tide, which exhausts them further. 

Instead, if caught in a rip tide -- suddenly pulled farther from shore than you wanted or expected -- tread water or float on your back. Catch your breath. Admire the beautiful sky and the dunes on shore from your new found vantage. Then swim parallel to the shoreline. Then swim in normally. If it takes longer than usual, take a break, rest, breathe, tread water, and then go again. Like little Nemo's mantra: Just keep swimming.

And remember, if someone else is in trouble, panicking and getting tired and in danger of drowning, the lifeguard's mantra is Reach, Throw, Row, Go. The last thing you want to do is go into the water. Many people become victims themselves, get tired struggling with the drowning person, and they also drown. Reach for them with something. Throw them something. Get in a boat and go to them. And before any of that, call a lifeguard.

This cool site, The Art of Maniless, provides some good advice on rip tides. The image above is from the site.

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