To the Editor:
In light of the two most recent incidents of swimmers getting caught in rip tides, one resulting in a fatality, I implore you to provide public information in every one of your summer publications, explaining what to do if caught in a rip tide. This could be an explanation of narrow rip tide currents, with a diagram of how to swim out of them, or simply just a small notice with a picture of a swimmer with a caption that reads,
“What do you do if you are caught in a rip tide?Swim parallel to the shore.”
I don’t understand why this has not been done already. I am contacting all Vineyard publications and requesting that each one provide this notice throughout the summer. I also will contact beach associations on the South Shore and request that they post directions on their beaches of how to swim out of a rip tide, rather than just a warning that says you should swim at your own risk. It could save a life.
In 1981, I was caught in a rip tide on a remote beach on the South Shore, and before I knew it, I was being pulled far away from the shore very quickly. For a moment, I thought I was going to die. Luckily for me, the day before, I had stopped and read a notice someone (an angel?) had placed on the path to the beach. It described how to swim out of a rip tide. It was a permanent sign, slanted under a plastic shield, on top of a sturdy post, just begging to be read. It had a simple drawing showing arrows in a narrow column heading out to sea and a swimmer, with arrows showing to swim parallel to the shore. And remembering these directions, I began to swim parallel to the shore, and I was soon out of the rip tide and able to get back to shore.
Had I not read that posting, I would have drowned, struggling to fight the current. I had never before or since then seen a similar posting.
Please help to provide this important information to the public. Thank you.
Oak Bluffs, MA