Warnings and rules to follow when you are at the beach

Access updated information here: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/sju/

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  • Rip currents can exhaust even the strongest of swimmers. Avoid going to beaches that are under a High Surf Warning. 
  • Check the risk level for the beach you are interested in visiting. You will find this information on the CariCOOS website by consulting the product on this page: http://www.caricoos.org/Nearshore_Breaker_Model/
  • Avoid swimming long distances without supervision. Do not swim after eating or under the influence of alcohol.
  • When planning your day at the beach, go to the National Weather Service website (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/sju) 
  • Be aware of the physical changes that the sea normally experiences.
  • Get out of the sea when you feel that a current is slightly pulling you. Observe the conditions at the seashore for 15-20 minutes before entering the water!
  • Keep your entire group in sight at all times.

The height of the waves is forecast for different beaches that are highly visited and risky for visitors in Puerto Rico.

During the winter season, we frequently hear or read of people drowning on our beaches due to high tides. When tropical cyclones pass by, near or even distant in the Atlantic, they can also generate high and dangerous tidal waves. It is precisely when there are strong tidal events that rip currents are generated on those beaches that face the open sea, and they are very dangerous. Many times, people do not find out if there are rip currents on the beaches they visit, where is the safest place to swim and at what time. These currents do not always occur in the same place, with the same strength, or at the same time.

Photo Source: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/ripcurrents/

What is a rip current?
A rip current is a surface (or sub-surface) current of water that moves away from the shore and heads out to sea. It’s like a canal or river of water that moves fast (up to 8 feet per second!). It is not current that sinks you, but that pulls you out into the deep.

Rip currents are generated by an irregular breaking of the wave along its crest. The water that accumulates on the coast normally seeks to return to the sea through the path of least resistance, creating a channel of little resistance that returns the water out to sea, and it is this channel that we know as the rip current. Rip currents tend to be stronger when there are strong swells. These currents are sometimes visible and sometimes invisible, depending on the intensity of the current and the type of sediment found on the beach. When there are fine sediments, and therefore easy to be suspended in the water, these currents can be seen with the naked eye. It can be seen as a stain of sediments on the surface of the water, with brown tones, which penetrate far out to sea. When the sediments on the beach are horrible, it is more difficult to identify them, and only sometimes they are perceived through differences in the color of the water (a clear space between foam) or by the same foam of the waves that seem to recede out to sea.

Both large tidal waves and rip currents occur intermittently. It is necessary that when you arrive at the beach with your friends or with your family you spend 15 to 20 minutes to observe the conditions on the seashore. You might get to the beach and everything looks calm, but a few minutes later big waves roll in and rip currents form. Therefor

Both large tidal waves and rip currents occur intermittently. It is necessary that when you arrive at the beach with your friends or with your family you spend 15 to 20 minutes to observe the conditions on the seashore. You might get to the beach and everything looks calm, but a few minutes later big waves roll in and rip currents form. Therefore, it is very important to observe carefully before entering the water.

What can you do?

1. Don’t panic.
2. If you find yourself in trouble on the water, raise a hand and stay afloat until help arrives.
When swimming do not do it against the current. Wait for the rip current to “let go” of you and then swim perpendicular to the beach for 20-40 meters (about 100 feet), toward where the waves are breaking.
3. The same waves will take you back to the beach.