GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Rip currents can be dangerous, especially for those who don’t know what they are. Even though a rip current forecast is a common phrase used by those who live closer to the coast, visitors may not know the specific repercussions involved with rip current risks.

In the United States, there are approximately 100 fatalities every year due to rip currents. A rip is a strong, narrow current of water that occurs when waves are crashing along the beach, like a fast-flowing river. Although it may seem like rip currents could be easy to spot, they most often are not. 

A rip current forms because of the waves, which push water towards land. This same traveling water that was pushed by the waves must find a way to exit back out to the ocean. This creates a fast-flowing stream of water exiting through the crashing waves. 

The best thing to do if you are ever caught in a rip current is to remain calm. Don’t try to swim against or through the current back to shore, but rather swim out of the current and then return to land. If you cannot get out of the current float or tread water, and then wave your arms to get a lifeguard’s attention.