Editorial & Opinion

Editorial: Be careful going into the ocean

Rip currentThe Outer Banks has had two drowning in the last two days.

The first occurred Thursday (July 21) on Ocracoke in the airport access area (Ramp 70) and the other Friday (July 22) off of Sailfish Drive in Frisco.  See story here.

The conditions are right to create dangerous rip currents, which are channels of water moving away from the shore.

To avoid tragedy, we urge everyone venturing into the water to exercise extreme caution. Be aware that swimming in the surf is not the same as in a lake or pool.

On Ocracoke, swimmers should go to the day use beach, aka “Lifeguard beach” during the hours that lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Swimming in remote areas, including the pony pasture area, can be dangerous because attempted rescues would take a lot longer.

The following are some safety tips, courtesy of www.ripcurrents.com:

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.

When going into the water, use good judgment. If you feel strong currents, get out of the water, or, as the saying goes, when in doubt, stay out.

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