6899871246_3b03a94bed_zThis month’s Nurse Tip comes from our own recent experience and it’s no exaggeration to say that knowing what to do in rough water can save your life.

My husband, Scott, was recently caught in a dangerous rip current off the North Carolina coast. He remembered what to do in time and was able to get to shore. The following week, in the same area, four others were not so lucky or prepared and drowned.

So, if you find yourself swept off in a rip current, the most important thing is not to panic. It is very easy to exhaust yourself trying to swim against the current. This can happen in seconds, so remind yourself of what to do before every time you go into any water with a current — the ocean or any lake large enough to have waves.

Instead of trying to swim directly back, swim parallel to the shore. Go in the direction the current is taking you. If you can, float or tread water to keep your head up. Eventually the current will end and you will be able to move back to the shore.

Please discuss water safety and rip tides with children or other family and friends before you go into the water.

Here’s a link to a website with more information and illustrations showing what to do. [http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov/overview.shtml]