Aubrey B. Litzinger and Stephen P. Leatherman, 2021. “Rip current rescues on unguarded beaches“, Shore & Beach, 89(3), 41-45.
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Rip current rescues on unguarded beaches
Aubrey B. Litzinger(1) and Stephen P. Leatherman(2)
1) Department of Civil Engineering and 2) Department of Earth & Environment
Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199
Rip currents are the greatest danger at surf beaches. Professional lifeguards rescue tens of thousands of people every year at U.S. beaches, but only a small percentage of the nation’s beaches are guarded. Oftentimes it is a young person who is caught in a rip current, and a bystander will attempt a rescue without a flotation device. The U.S. Lifesaving Association strongly suggests that this kind of rescue should not be undertaken because too often the rescuer will drown. Some coastal towns such as Cocoa Beach in Florida are now posting ring buoys on their unguarded beaches with the warning to throw, but not to go into the water. Ring buoys of two different weights were tested for efficiency when thrown in terms of distance and accuracy. The participants threw the ring buoys two different ways: one way of their choosing (un-instructed) and second by Red Cross recommendation (instructed). The buoyancy was also tested for each buoy. While these flotation devices have some merit, they clearly have limitations.