Rip currents keep San Diego lifeguards busy on holiday

People pulled into shore

SAN DIEGO - Lifeguards told 10News they are busy with calls for help Monday because of rip currents at Ocean Beach and Mission Beach.

Rescuers entered the water several times by noon to help people, but none of the injuries were serious and everyone made it back to shore.

Local beaches were packed for the Memorial Day holiday, and visitors may not be used to the strong currents, or may underestimate the danger.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook at 5:40 am Monday morning because of strong rip currents on area beaches, which was set to expire Tuesday.

There were isolated incidents of rip currents along the same beaches on Sunday.

A rip current is typically 1-2 feet per second, according to the National Weather Service. Speeds can be as high as eight feet per second and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.

More than 100 people in the U.S. die each year because of rip currents, according to government statistics. 

The National Weather Service offers this advice on what to look for when identifying the potential for rip currents:

  • a channel of churning, choppy water
  • an area having a notable difference in water color
  • a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
  • a break in the incoming wave pattern
  • polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues provided above.

Lifeguards also provide these survival tips on what to do if you get caught in a rip current:

  • Relax and stay calm.
  • Swim parallel to shore. Do not swim against the current.
  • Float on your back or tread water if necessary.
  • Wave to a lifeguard for help.


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