Beach Patrol officials warn swimmers about the dangers of rip cu - NBC40.net

Beach Patrol officials warn swimmers about the dangers of rip currents

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ATLANTIC CITY -

Rip currents are always a common issue for swimmers at the Jersey Shore but experts say they can be avoided with proper precautions.

"I panicked right away of course, and tried to swim away and it just doesn't work."

Tim Wilcox, like many others was not prepared when he was trapped in a dangerous rip current.

Safety officials hope to avoid these life threatening occurrences by promoting "Rip Current Awareness Week".

A conference was held on Tuesday in Long Beach Island to talk about the issue. Locally, beach patrols are urging swimmers to learn how to escape hazardous situations before it's too late.

"Rip currents can move someone about 1-2 feet per second," said Chief Rod Aluise, of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol.

While lifeguards are on duty they will urge swimmers to stay away from jetty's. This is where rip currents are most likely to form. However if you are caught in one while no lifeguards are around, they say the best thing you can do is just stay calm.

"If you are caught in a rip current it will probably pull you out," said Lt. David Stearne of the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol. "The difference is if it pulls you out and you panic, then you are out in the water without energy."

From here - tread water and swim parallel to the shore.

"because rips are usually 20-30 maybe 40 yards wide. They are certainly not all the way across the beach."

Every year lifeguards are trained on how to rescue swimmers from the currents. This year however, the affects of Hurricane Sandy have been added to the mix.

"It changes every year and we're seeing some sand bars and some other issues here and along the coast line we haven't seen in the past," said Stearne.

That's why safety officials say the best advice they can give tourists is to only go in the water when a lifeguard is on duty.

Atlantic City Beach Patrol officials say about 85% of water rescues that occur at the beach are rip current related.

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