WILLARD H. KILLOUGH III | Staff Photographer
Sunday July 11 - A Kure Beach Lifeguard sets out a sign alerting the public to the danger of rip currents. The Town is increasing its efforts to educate and alert the public to the dangers of rip currents.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
KURE BEACH - The Town of Kure Beach is taking efforts to be proactive in educating the public on the dangers of rip currents when hitting the beach this summer. In addition to the red flags placed on lifeguard stands, guards are now putting large a-frame signs on the beach alerting the public.
Many people identify red flags with a warning, but a sign spelling out the reason is a more direct line of communication.
In June of last year an Ohio family vacationing in Kure Beach suffered the loss of a loved one following an encounter with a rip current. Lifeguards pulled the woman, husband and their 16-year old son from the dangerous current on a Saturday mid-afternoon. The boy was in good condition, but the husband and wife were taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.
The husband was later released from the hospital but the wife remained in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Shortly after that, she passed away.
Kure Beach Fire Chief Harold Heglar said the family was in the surf in between lifeguard towers one and two in the 700 block of Fort Fisher Blvd. North. Helgar described the rip current as one of the largest he had ever seen.
The lifeguards responded as soon as they detected trouble. Five lifeguards responded to rescue the three back to shore where guards immediately began CPR.
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. For your safety, be aware of this major surf zone hazard. Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues provided above.
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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