Skip to main content

Rip Currents

Along the New Hampshire Seacoast, the presence of Rip Currents are one of our primary safety concerns for
our visitors.

Rip currents occur when waves push excess water volume towards shore, where it meets the beach and flows back out to sea. Over time, the excess water will carve out a small channel between two sandbars and strengthens the current. 

To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to spot rip currents. The best way to spot a rip current is to watch the waves that come to shore. Typically, waves will not break in a rip current, as the depth of the water and the flow of the current disrupt the wave coming to shore. These waveless areas often look welcoming to bathers due to the calm appearance and lack of breaking waves. Once in the current, the water depth increases and bathers would not be able to touch the bottom.

If trapped in a rip current, the safest way to escape is to stay calm. Most rip currents are anywhere from 50 to 200 yards in length. The best practice if caught in a rip current is to float with the current without trying to resist it. If you do this you will reach the end of the current, where you can then swim parallel to shore until you’ve reached breaking waves that will help push you back to shore. 

If you see someone caught in a rip current, do not try to rescue them without the proper equipment or training. Alert the nearest lifeguard, or if lifeguards are not on duty, Call 911.

Know before you go!  Read the important information about Rip Currents: 


How can you tell where a Rip Current is?

  • Usually murkier and dark water
  • Waves are lower and choppier
  • Distinct out-current observable

How do you get out of a Rip Current?

  • Know how to swim
  • Swim at guarded beaches
  • Remain calm
  • Go with the current until you feel you can swim parallel to the shore then back to the beach. 
  • Never swim directly into the Rip because it will expend all your energy.
  • Float if you can’t swim.
  • Rip Currents pull you off shore but they do not have ability to pull you down.

Break the Grip of the Rip!


For more go to:

Seal of the State of New Hampshire © NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
172 Pembroke Road Concord, NH 03301