How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Memorial Day
From light eating to the No. 1 beach danger, here are tips to making your Memorial Day healthy and safe.
Surviving a Rip Current continued...
So for most people, Brewster recommends
swimming parallel to the shore. One doesn't have to be a very strong swimmer to
do this. Rip currents aren't exactly narrow, but they are concentrated in one
place. In a short while, most swimmers should be outside the current and able
to make it back to shore.
Sometimes the rip current is diagonal to
shore. If you try to swim parallel to shore but aren't making any progress,
Brewster says, turn around and swim parallel to shore in the other direction.
That should do the trick.
Saving Someone Caught in a Rip Current
Brewster literally put together the book on
open-water lifesaving -- his text is used all over the world. Here's his advice
on how to save someone caught in a rip current:
- Toss something that floats to the person in trouble. Lifeguards use a
rescue buoy. A life jacket would be the next choice, or any approved lifesaving
device. If nothing is available, try anything buoyant. Brewster suggests
tossing a sealed, watertight cooler if nothing else is available.
- Toss a rope to the victim. This isn't as good as a something that floats,
because a person panicking may not see -- or be able to reach -- a slippery
- Coach the victim. Shout loudly so you can be heard above the surf. Try to
get the victim to stay calm. Explain what is going on. Urge him or her NOT to
fight toward shore, but to swim or wade parallel to shore.
- Don't enter the water if you aren't a calm, confident, skilled swimmer.
Even so, it's a VERY dangerous choice. "Whether to go in for a rescue is a
very personal decision based on your ability and understanding of rip
currents," Brewster says. "The reality is that many people in rescue
attempts do drown each year. There is no value in having two people drown in an
- If you understand rip currents, and are a strong swimmer, you may decide to
enter the water. It's best to have something that floats to hold on to. If not,
a pair of swim fins can make it much easier to swim. DO NOT MAKE PHYSICAL
CONTACT WITH THE VICTIM. A panicking person will pull a rescuer under water.
"The worst-case scenario -- something lifeguards avoid like the plague --
is physical contact with the victim," Brewster says. Swim well out of reach
of the victim. If you have a flotation device such as a boogie board or a
rescue tube, get the victim to grab hold of one side. Do not let the victim
grab you. Urge the victim to calm down and follow you as you swim parallel to
- Forming a human chain to reach the victim does NOT work, Brewster says. The
people at the end of the chain will be in danger -- and if the chain breaks,
several more people will be in trouble.