Watch CBS News

What does a rip current look like?

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Summer in Chicago means sunny days at the lake. It can also mean hazardous conditions, like rip currents. 

What is a rip current?

Winds create several types of dangerous currents, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP). Winds create waves that create dangerous currents. 

In 2023, 11 of the 30 Great Lakes drownings have taken place in Lake Michigan, according to data from the GLSRP. There have been 1,185 Great Lake drownings reported since 2010. 

Spotting A Rip Current 

You can spot a rip current if the winds and waves are directly on the shore. 

Characteristics of rip currents include a channel of water that is choppy and that appears in a churning motion, a line of sea foam or seaweed that is moving rapidly away from the shore, or a break in a pattern of waves coming towards the shore.  

How to get out of a rip current

Chicago Chicago Fire Department recommends swimming parallel to shore if you get caught in a rip current.  Eventually, the water's force subsides and you are able to swim back to shore. 

CFD said the rip current will not take you down to the bottom of the lake, it takes you up and pulls you away from the shoreline. 

Never try to go against the current. Just try to relax, don't and panic, kick your legs. Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project recommends trying to float to save energy. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.