Rip Current Awareness Week - NBC40.net

Rip Current Awareness Week

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"I just remember I kept getting pulled out farther and farther. The waves were coming over my head," said Stephen McCormick, a resident of Ventnor City.

McCormick tells NBC 40 his story about getting pulled out deep into the Atlantic by a rip current.

"I remember the lifeguards had to come out and throw me the can and pull me in. It was a pretty traumatic experience," said McCormick.

And that's why Robert Wagner with the Ventnor City Beach Patrol is urging beach goers to be cautious in the water.

"Rip currents have the potential, depending on the weather and ocean conditions, to draw you out rather far. It's not just the limit of 20 yards out into the ocean. Sometimes you can get pulled out a quarter of a mile," said Wagner.

"You have to be careful. You have to be cautious and mindful of that," said McCormick.

But how do you spot a rip current? Wagner says there are two noticeable signs.

"One of those is a discoloration. It looks like a different color in the water, almost like a sandy color. It's all in one place. Sometimes you'll see an effect on the water level and it will look like the way a river might flow over a shallow area," said Wagner.

And if you happen to get caught in a rip current....

"The best thing to do is swim laterally against the current. Meaning if the current is drawing you straight out, then you want to go in the direction of the beach front," said Wagner.

"It's scary for anybody. It would be scary because you don't know what's going to happen. The ocean is a lot more powerful than us," said Garrett Hoffman, a resident of Linwood.

And this is why officials with the Beach Patrol say it's important to listen to your lifeguards when they whistle you over.

"They are dangerous and people can get sucked out in them. That's why we are here to protect them and keep them safe," said Travis McElori, a lifeguard with the Ventnor City Beach Patrol. 

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