What You Need To Know About NYC Beaches and Riptides

6/24/10 - By Anna Fader

I was so saddened yesterday to read about a 12 year old girl who drowned on a class trip to Long Beach. I have been reading with dread the stories over the past few years of adults and children drowning at the beaches around NYC, frequently due to strong currents and riptides.

We can not go back in time and save this little girl or the others that have died due to rip currents, but I hope to spread the word to all parents to educate yourself and your children to know what to do in case they are carried off in a strong current. Knowing what to do in a riptide can make the difference between life and death.


Some basic information about riptides: Instead of trying to swim against the current, swimmers should swim parallel to the beach and out of the current or just float until help can come. Riptides are more common near jetties and piers so certain beaches are more prone to them. You can sometimes spot a riptide because the water looks foamy and brown. One misconception is that lifeguards will warn swimmers when there is a riptide. They do not necessarily do that. Swimmers must educate themselves to know how to spot a riptide and how to get out of it.

This is a great page about riptides—how to spot a riptide, with photos and also what to do in case of a riptide. Everyone should read it and learn about rip currents. Parents should also learn how to spot a riptide because they can carry off a child who is even just wading in the water.

New York City is surrounded by wonderful beaches, but I implore all parents to be very careful in the water, only swim with a lifeguard on duty, watch your children carefully and teach them what to do if they are caught in a riptide or strong current. Please share this information with your friends so we don't have to read more tragic stories like this one.