Littoral or Lateral currents are ocean currents that flow parallel to the beach or shore line. These currents vary in speed from rapid-flowing to subtle movements. These currents don’t pose much threat to a normal swimmer, but weaker swimmers can be dragged into rip currents during heavy surf breaks.
Rips or Rip Currents
Rip currents are one of the major cause of surf accidents. A Rip is a powerful flow of water rushing back to the ocean due to heavy wave action. This is a natural phenomenon, where huge quality of water accumulates near the shore due to wave action. Nature creates a rip to send all that water back to sea. Rip currents always take the path of least resistance. Rips have the tendency to pull even stronger swimmers into deep water. The larger the waves, the stronger the rip currents. lateral currents have the tendency of influencing rip currents. Again, sometimes rips tend to occur at more than one location on the same beach if influenced by lateral currents. Normally Bigger rips can be identified by a mild discoloration of water with sand and debris.
With high tides backwash occurs when the water remaining on the beach returns forcefully to the surf right beneath the incoming waves. This sometime poses danger for kids playing on the shore. Back wash packs enough punch to knock people off their feet standing ankle deep in the shore. Unlike rip current back wash has a short pull zone often dies behind the following waves.
High tide will cause large waves to break on the beach with little or no water under them. Posing danger as it can slam the swimmer on the beach sand and injure. Shore breaks injuries results in back, neck and shoulder injuries.
Swimming Safety Advice
Do talk to the locals and the lifeguard (if present) about surf conditions. Follow their advice.
Never swim or surf alone – always find a buddy.
Do Not Overestimate your abilities to swim or tackle waves, Cold water can reduce your swimming ability.
Do not dive in shallow water.
Dive under large waves.
If you ever get caught in a rip – first relax, start swimming towards the shore at a angle of 45-degree. Swimming parallel to the shore will get you out of the rip and hopefully you can catch a wave or two back to the beach.
At any given point , if you are finding it difficult to escape the rip don’t hesitate to call or wave for help.
Always swim parallel to the shore and not perpendicular to it. This helps you easily get back to the shore when dehydration or muscle fatigue sets in.
Never mix alcohol with surfing or swimming. Even a hangover can decrease your chances of survival in the sea.