BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Rip currents can be a seemingly hidden threat when swimming in the water, but there are ways to spot if one is forming.

Rip currents are narrow channels of water that can pull even the strongest swimmers away from the shore. They can move more than five mph — which is faster than an Olympic swimmer.

However, some tips can help keep you safe.

Awareness is the first step. Look for a noticeable difference in water color, choppy or foamy water, or a line of debris moving seaward. If you spot one, stay out of the water and alert a lifeguard.

Always swim near lifeguard stations at the beach. Lifeguards are trained on how to spot rip currents and can let you know where it’s safest to swim.

If caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you escape its pull, and then swim back to land at an angle. If you are tired, lay on your back and let the rip current pull you out. Rip currents rarely extend more than 100 yards, which means it gives you enough time to calm down and catch your breath.

Educate yourself, your family and children about rip currents before hitting the beach.

If you spot someone struggling in the water, don’t try to rescue them yourself. Let a lifeguard know or call emergency services.