More than 40 people rescued from rip currents in one day at a NC beach

What You Need to Know: Rip Currents

Red flags indicating a high rip current hazard were flying all day

A North Carolina ocean rescue official says more than 40 people had to be saved from dangerous rip currents at a single beach in one day.

News outlets report Dave Baker, ocean rescue director for Wrightsville Beach, confirmed dozens of swimmers were rescued from rip currents there by late afternoon Sunday.

He said red flags indicating a high rip current hazard were flying all day. The town says that when red flags are in the air, swimmers are discouraged from getting in the water and conditions are seen as potentially life threatening to those who enter.

The National Weather Service reported the risk for rip currents across the North Carolina coast Sunday was moderate, meaning swimmers should swim near a lifeguard and pay attention to warnings and beach officials.

The National Weather Service describes rip currents as "channelized currents of water flowing away from shore at surf beaches, Typically, they form at breaks in sandbars, and also near structures, such as jetties and piers, as well as cliffs that jut into the water."

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How to survive a rip crurent

  • Relax. Rip currents don't pull you under
  • A rip current is a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer. Trying to swim against a rip current will only use up your energy.
  • Do not try to swim directly to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current's pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can't reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help.
  • If at all possible, swim only at beaches with lifeguards.
  • If you choose to swim on beaches without a lifeguard, never swim alone. Take a friend and have a cellphone so one of you can call 911 for help.

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