Carolina Beach, Kure Beach Make Numerous Holiday Water Rescues

Local governments began easing stay-at-home restrictions earlier this month. People headed for the beach for the Memorial Day weekend, and the previous weekend, to enjoy the beaches and the reopening of area restaurants.  Lifeguards on Pleasure Island answered around 86 rescue calls mostly due to Rip Currents. Local governments began easing stay-at-home restrictions earlier this month. People headed for the beach for the Memorial Day weekend, and the previous weekend, to enjoy the beaches and the reopening of area restaurants. Lifeguards on Pleasure Island answered around 86 rescue calls mostly due to Rip Currents. Photo: Jasmine Mckee

Carolina Beach, Kure Beach Make Numerous Holiday Water Rescues Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 27 May 2020 17:15

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  Over the previous Memorial Day Weekend lifeguards in Carolina Beach conducted 48 water rescues. Kure Beach lifeguards answered 38 calls for service. The majority were due to Rip Currents. 

Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue reminds people that when heading out to enjoy the beach, pay attention to warning flags on lifeguard towers and be cautious when swimming in the surf.

While lifeguards post flags warning people when it's safe or dangerous due to strong currents, many people don't no how to identify rip currents and in some cases don't understand the flags posted at towers along the beach. A  green flag indicates calm water conditions. A yellow flag means "Use Caution While Swimming - Choppy - Rough Surf Conditions". A red flag means, "Hazardous Water Conditions - Use Extreme Caution - Ocean Swimming only permitted up to waist deep".

A black flag means there's no lifeguard on duty.

Why Rip Currents Form

As waves travel from deep to shallow water, they will break near the shoreline. When waves break strongly in some locations and weakly in others, this can cause circulation cells which are seen as rip currents: narrow, fast-moving belts of water traveling offshore.

Why Rip Currents are Dangerous:

Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beachgoers. They are particularly dangerous for weak or non-swimmers. Rip current speeds are typically 1-2 feet per second. However, speeds as high as 8 feet per second have been measured-this is faster than an Olympic swimmer can sprint!

Thus, rip currents can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. Over 100 drownings due to rip currents occur every year in the United States. More than 80% of water rescues on surf beaches are due to rip currents. When Rip Currents Form Under certain wave, tide, and beach profile conditions the speeds can quickly increase to become dangerous to anyone entering the surf. The strength and speed of a rip current will likely increase as wave height and wave period increase. They are most likely to be dangerous during high surf conditions as the wave height and wave period increase. Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. Rip currents can be very narrow or extend in widths to hundreds of yards. The seaward pull of rip currents varies: sometimes the rip current ends just beyond the line of breaking waves, but sometimes rip currents continue to push hundreds of yards offshore. How to Identify Rip Currents Look for any of these clues:
• a channel of churning, choppy water
•  an area having a notable difference in water color
• a line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
•  a break in the incoming wave pattern None, one, or more of the above clues may indicate the presence of rip currents. Rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the average beachgoer.

How to Avoid and Survive Rip Currents

• Never swim alone.
• Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out!
• Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard protected beach.
• Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
• If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself:  face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.
• If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1 .

Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

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