Local News

Wrightsville Beach lifeguards warn swimmers of dangerous rip currents

Posted June 21, 2018 5:54 p.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2018 6:43 p.m. EDT

— Even when it is a beautiful day at the beach, looks can be deceiving and calm waters can hide rip currents.

In 2017, 12 people died on the North Carolina coast because of rip currents.

Lifeguards at Wrightsville Beach average two water rescues each day.

"We see rip currents with little surf, with big surf, with no surf," said John Scull, a lifeguard. "We see it with all kinds of winds and different conditions."

Rip currents form as waves break near the beach when water returns to the sea.

Scull said the most common mistake made by swimmers is panic.

"They don't know what is happening. They're moving away from shore, they're never been in that situation before and they're gonna panic," he said.

If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you get out of it and can swim safely in toward the beach. If that is not possible, save your energy, stay afloat and wave for help.

"We look for water movement, change in surf, any sedimentation that is gonna come up from under near and show where that sand is flowing," Scull said.

Since Memorial Day weekend, Wrightsville Beach lifeguards have done about 60 water rescues, most of those involving rip currents.