Drownings often occur at beaches due to an undertow. The undertow can be very dangerous and unpredictable.
When a wave breaks on a beach, the water that runs up the beach soon reverses flow back down the beach to the ocean or lake. This is called backwash.
Backwash can be very dangerous. When big waves break one behind the other, incoming waves frequently push previous backwash sideways. This results in water running along the shoreline like a stream until it finds an exit, there it flows back into the lake or ocean.
This outward flow is called a rip current. Rip currents often look flat and rippling. The fastest flow of water in a rip current is in the middle. Rip currents lose strength as they spread wide and disappear when they reach the open water outside the waves.
An undertow occurs where waves break over a riptide. The force of the wave pushes the outgoing water down, creating an undertow.
Most experts caution if you are ever caught in a riptide or undertow, don’t panic.
Those involved in diving accidents usually suffer injuries to their head or spinal cord. These injuries can occur as a result of diving into water that is too shallow, or by using a diving board.
Diving accidents can occur in a pool, lake, river, pond, or any waterway. Before diving into any water, whether off a boat or a diving board, it is important to check the area. Remove any debris and make sure you have a good idea of the depth of the water.