A selfie stick saved this girl from a riptide. In case you forget yours, here's how to stay safe.
Taking a dip? Remember this tip.
While plenty of dangers lurk on the beach — weird tan lines, food on sticks, sand in unfortunate crevices — there's one you don't hear much about: riptides. (Pipe down, Vance Joy. No one's talking to you.)
Riptides, or rip currents, are powerful, narrow bands of fast-moving water found on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts and even in the Great Lakes.
Rip currents are incredibly difficult for the average beachgoer to spot, making them highly dangerous. They account for 80% of rescues performed by surf-beach lifeguards and are the cause of over 100 deaths a year.
In fact, in the United States, rip currents are 100 times more deadly than sharks.
In June 2015, a 16-year-old girl and her father made headlines after they were almost swept away by a rip current.
Erynn Johns and her father Derrick tried to swim toward shore, but couldn't make it. Sensing her daughter and husband were in trouble, Jennifer Johns ran to the water, where she too ended up caught in the tide.
What saved the family from an unimaginable fate? A selfie stick.
Erynn was recording video with a GoPro camera attached to the infamous monopod, so the entire event was captured on film.
As she felt herself being swept out to sea, the video shows Erynn struggling to swim back toward her father and the shore.
Unfortunately, she was fighting a losing battle. Swimming toward shore means fighting the current, otherwise known as the Ronda Rousey of moving water — odds are, you're going to lose. In fact, people are usually injured or killed because they tire themselves out fighting the current.
Luckily, Erynn's father, Derrick, was able to grab hold of the stick and guide Erynn toward shore.
Onlookers and lifeguards jumped in to help, and the whole family made it safely back to the beach.
Derrick Johns, a former Marine, told The Boston Globe the experience was "total, sheer terror."
Facing a riptide without a selfie stick? Keep calm and swim parallel to shore.
If you're caught in a rip current, do not try to swim toward shore. Instead, since riptides are only about 100 feet wide, move parallel to the shore until you are out of danger, then swim to safety.
Wherever you swim this summer, be mindful of your surroundings and never swim alone.
The buddy system is not just for kids. Always swim with someone, and stick to parks and beaches with lifeguards. Summer days are a lot more fun when everyone gets home safe.
Want to experience a rip current from the comfort of dry land? Watch the footage from Derrick Johns' GoPro in its entirety:
And if you haven't already, go snag a selfie stick. It's banned pretty much every place worth going, but on the off chance you can use it, it just might save your life.