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27 Jul 2019
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Hints and TipsSanibel Outdoors

We don’t want to scare anyone, but there have been some recent events that have us concerned about the safety of our visitors on Sanibel and Captiva.

In the past couple of weeks, three people have drowned off the coast near Captiva Island and Upper Captiva Island (also known as North Captiva Island).  At least two were due to being caught in strong currents, either rip tides or rip currents.  It’s important to be aware of tide conditions and currents during your stay.

A rip tide is a current that pulls water through an inlet along a barrier beach, such as our barrier islands.  One of the drownings occurred in the area off the South Seas Resort beach on the north end of Captiva, near Redfish Pass.  The Pass was originally part of the original Captiva Island until a large section was obliterated by the Hurricane of 1921, separating it into the two islands we know today.  It is approximately 300 yards wide and 100 feet deep.  The resulting strong currents going through the Pass make it very popular for fishing, but is dangerous to swimmers and small boats.

A rip current is a small and narrow current of water which cuts through waves like a rushing river going out to sea.  These are more unpredictable than rip tides, but both can carry people far off shore.  Most drownings occur when those caught panic and try to swim against the current, causing them to exhaust themselves and sink.  Recent storms have brought stronger surf to the shore, which is great for washing our famous shells onto the beach.  Not so much if you’re risking your safety.

If you find yourself caught in a rip current or a dangerous tide, the most important thing to do is stay calm.  Swim parallel to shore and try to gain the attention of people on shore for help.  If you have a piece of equipment (such as a surfboard or float), hang onto to it to reduce effort and save your strength.

Of course, the best way to prepare is to be aware of tide and surf conditions before you hit the beach.  Be sure to monitor weather reports on local media and check for alerts about rip currents.

Sanibel Holiday wants everyone to have a safe, enjoyable stay in our condos and houses.