Je'Sani Smith Foundation

Beach Safety & Rip Current Education 

Know before you enter the water what rip currents are, and how to escape them. 


Rip currents are channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches. Typically, they form at breaks in sandbars, and also near structures, such as jetties and piers, as well as cliffs that jut into the water. Rip currents are common and can be found on most surf beaches, including the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico.

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Rip currents are often difficult to see, but you can spot them in areas where waves aren’t breaking, or where there’s foam, seaweed, or discolored water being pulled offshore. It’s easier to see a rip current from higher up - such as from the beach access over dunes or a lifeguard’s tower.

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  • STAY CALM! Float and don't fight the current.
  • Swim parallel or at an angle to shore until you feel the current weakening.
  • Once the current weakens, swim toward shore in a relaxed manner while trying to breathe normally and not hyperventilate.
  • If lifeguards are visible, wave your arms and yell for help.

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  • Before you go to the beach, it's important to check the surf forecast and check the beach flags.

  • Know how to swim before you venture into the ocean and always swim close to a lifeguard.
  • Learn how to spot a rip current and how to survive if caught in a one.
  • And of course....have fun!
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BeachSafely and COVID-19

The Beach Flag System

Regardless of the flag posted, rip currents exist more often near piers, jetties and other structures. It is highly recommended that beach goers refrain from swimming in or around those structures.

Beach flag system

Fulton Jetty - photo credit Jennifer Bradley 10/6/2015

Fulton Pier

Green Flag

Low Hazard

The green flag indicates a low hazard, calm conditions, exercise caution.

Yellow Flag

Medium Hazard

Moderate surf and/or currents are present. Weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. For others, enhanced care and caution should be exercised.

Red Flag

High Hazard

Rough conditions such as strong surf and/or currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. Those entering the water should take great care.

Purple Flag

Venomous marine life present

Jellyfish, stingrays, sea snakes or other marine life are present in the water, and can cause minor injuries. This flag is not intended to indicate the presence of sharks. In this latter case the red flag or double red flag may be hoisted.

Orange Flag

Environmental Hazard

This could mean that bacteria levels are high, especially after high tides, or that the air or water quality is poor. 

Rip Cur​rent Facts

Rip currents account for 80% of annual beach rescues.

Source:, United States Lifesaving Association

Approximately 100 people die a year from rip currents.


National Weather Service Surf Zone Fatalities

Rip currents claim more lives than