Rip current fatalities rank among the top of fatalities across the Carolinas, especially on the Outer Banks.
Fatalities occur when panicked swimmers get exhausted and drown or have a heart attack, according to authorities.
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka “Dr. Beach,” America’s foremost expert on beaches, named Ocracoke Lifeguard beach the No. 4 best beach this year. It was the best beach in 2007.
Rip currents are like rivers in the sea, Leatherman says. They often look like an area of calm water between waves, but they are actually funneling out through a hole in the sand bar and into deep water.
If you are caught in a rip current:
–DON’T PANIC, which wastes your energy and keeps you from thinking clearly.
–Don’t attempt to swim against the current directly back to shore.
–Swim parallel to shore until you are out of the current as the offshore flow is restricted to the narrow rip neck.
–Float calmly out with the rip if you cannot break out by swimming perpendicular to the current. When it subsides, just beyond the surf zone, swim diagonally back to shore.
–If you are on shore and see someone in distress, alert lifeguards and call 911. If you go in the water, take flotation devices for yourself and the person or persons caught in the rip.
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