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Rip Current Outreach Makes a Difference, Saves Lives

Since 2006 Minnesota's Lake Superior beach goers are much more aware of rip currents. Thanks in part to Minnesota Sea Grantís sustained messaging, now 92% of them can correctly explain how to escape from a rip current (up from 67% in 2006).

RELEVANCE: People have died in rip currents that have formed along Park Point beach in Duluth, MN. The Twin Ports Rip Current Workgroup was formed in 2009 after a joint Minnesota Sea Grant-National Weather Service conference in Duluth, MN. Minnesota Sea Grant provides leadership to this group, which has instituted rip current educational and outreach programs in the cities of Duluth and Superior and in surrounding communities. Accomplishments include developing a beach flag system, training lifeguards, hosting an annual water safety expo, participating in the River Quest program for area 6th graders, and developing the website ParkPointBeach.org.

RESULTS: According to beach intercept surveys conducted by Minnesota Sea Grant in 2006, 2011 and 2013, awareness of rip currents has increased, people are behaving differently and emergency personnel are noticing a difference in rescue efforts. In addition to knowing how to escape dangerous currents, most people are also aware of the beach flag system, instituted in 2010. There have been no deaths along the beaches in the western edge of Lake Superior due to rip currents since 2003 (www.miseagrant.umich.edu/dcd/dcdsearch.php). In the past two years, rescue personnel are finding that by the time they get to the beach after a call about a rescue, someone else who knows about rip currents has already rescued the individuals.

By Sea Grant Staff
July 2014

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