Two massive storms are churning up the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, increasing the risk of dangerous surf conditions over the next few days. The American Red Cross advises anyone taking a late-summer trip to the beach to swim on lifeguard-protected beaches if possible, within the designated swimming areas.
Hurricanes Igor and Julia are swirling over the Atlantic with winds as high as 140 mph and are expected to cause powerful rip currents along the shore. Neither storm is expected to be a threat to the U.S., but could pose dangers for swimmers.
Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most rescues performed by beach lifeguards. The greatest safety precaution you can take is to know how dangerous rip currents can be. If possible, swim at a beach with lifeguards present.
If you are caught in a rip current, remember the following:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never fight against the current.
- Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.
- If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
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 victim something that floats, such as a lifejacket, cooler or inflatable ball. Yell instructions on how to escape the current. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
As summer winds to a close, many will squeeze in one more visit to the beach. For more information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe during your shore trip, visit www.redcross.org.