Locals understand and heed the risks while many visitors do not because of lack of information, lack of lifeguards at many of the most popular swimming spots and lack of signs. Ocean currents on both the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts of Costa Rica are swift and dangerous and can quickly sweep even the best swimmers out to sea. Seek reliable advice, swim only at beaches where a lifeguard is present and use extreme caution. Be aware emergency response time is not what you might be used to. Crucial minutes which can mean the difference between life and death. Visitors should carefully consider the safety of any beach before entering the water.
Before entering the water:
- If you’re swimming in water with wave action, always avoid any areas of water that appear to be unusually calm or different than the rest of the surf.
- Also, don’t swim near piers, docks, or jetties.
- If you can’t swim, or if you’re a weak swimmer, always wear a flotation device when entering an ocean, gulf, sea, bay, or large lake.
- Remember – if there are waves, riptides are always a possible threat.
- It’s best to always swim where lifeguards are present.
If you are caught in a Rip Tide:
- Signal for help and do not panic.
- If you find yourself in a rip tide that you can’t escape, even by swimming parallel to shore, stay calm and float on your back.
- If you don’t know how to float, allow the rip tide to carry you, but keep your head above water by gently paddling with the flow.
- The rip tide will lose its power eventually. When it does, swim back to shore on the diagonal.
- If you’re too tired to swim, allow the action of the incoming waves to carry you back to shore.
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