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A rip current is a powerful, narrow channel of water moving up to speeds of eight feet per second. They are common along both the east and west coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.
I’ll show what just one-thousand gallons of water and a three inch fire hose can simulate the power of a rip tide, which you cannot overpower.
Chief Skip Wyatt and the Ellerslie Volunteer Firefighters get together with us today to demonstrate the power of water. In one cubic foot is equal to about almost 7 in a half gallons of water. Think of this sixty-two pounds of power of water per cubic feet exerting in every direction, you cannot withstand it and you cannot fight it. So we simulate this rip current.
“So we are going to demonstrate now Skip the right way. I’m going to, let’s hypothetically say those guys represent my buddies on shore. Hi guys how are you doing? It’s great out here in the water. It’s fantastic! It’s wonderful! It’s no problem. Then all of a sudden I’m moving closer to shore, and all of a sudden…”
“I’m not going to panic…I’m going to get on my back, and I’m going to float…Gently, relax, and get out of the rip. Parallel to the shore…Ahh I’m out of that rip. I did it Skip! Whoa!”
“You did it exactly that’s what you gotta do gotta do.” (Me) “Don’t fight it! I’ll tell you that exerts a lot of energy. When you are panicking and trying to fight it.”
“When you get knocked down, knocked down…Next time under water…And that current coming over on top of you….Forced you to stay down, so it’s a bad situation. Even though you think you can stand up, you can’t stand up. When you get your feet knocked out from under you, you are not getting back up real easily. We can put that on the bottom, keep knocking your feet out and you are going to go under.”
So if you are caught in a rip current: Do not panic, try to stay calm as much as possible to conserve energy Do not fight the current instead begin to swim parallel to the shore and follow the shore- line. If you can’t escape try to float or tread water and signal for help.
It is estimated that 80% of lifeguard rescues are because of rip currents and around 100 deaths per year are attributed to them. Most importantly, Chief Wyatt reminds us all to keep a personal flotation device on or near any body of water, making this your best insurance this summer.