AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TEAM UP TO EDUCATE BEACHGOERS ON HOW TO
BREAK THE GRIP OF THE RIP®
4, 2007 — With the summer vacation season here, NOAA
and the National Park Service are alerting beachgoers to the threat
of rip currents and how to escape their strong and potentially fatal
grip. It is the focus of NOAA's national Rip
Current Awareness Week, June 3-9, 2007. (Click NOAA image
for larger view of Barry Sullivan, National Park Service general superintendent,
Gateway National Recreation Area, N.J.,(left) and Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist-in-charge
of the National Weather Service forecast office in Mount Holly, N.J.
(right), unveiling the new Rip Current Awareness sign. The sign provides
rip current safety information, and depicts the new partnership between
the NWS and NPS to promote awareness and safety. Click
here for high resolution version.
Please credit “NOAA.”)
are narrow channels of fast-moving water that pull swimmers away from
the shore. Panicked swimmers fail trying to counter the current by swimming
straight back to shore — putting themselves at risk of drowning
because of fatigue. Rip currents account for more than 80 percent of
rescues performed by lifeguards, totaling tens of thousands of people
in the United States every year. An estimated 100 people are killed
by rip currents annually.
"Before going into the water, check the rip current forecast, swim
on guarded beaches and know how to escape a rip current's grip,"
said Brig. Gen. David
L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s
National Weather Service. “Doing so may just save your life.”
currents are prevalent along the East, Gulf and West coasts in addition
to the Great Lakes. Rip current education is critical to every swimmer
and especially those who visit the beach infrequently and may be unfamiliar
with this leading swimming hazard.
NOAA National Weather Service forecast offices that serve coastal areas
issue Surf Zone Forecasts with rip current outlooks when rip currents
are a threat. These are available online, through the media and are
broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio
should learn how to identify rip currents and take the time to assess
the surf conditions before diving in,” advises Tom Herrington,
Ph.D, director of the Stevens – New Jersey Sea Grant Cooperative
Extension. “If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it!
Swim parallel to the shore and back to land at an angle.” Sea
Grant is NOAA's primary university-based program, located in each
coastal state, to promote better understanding, conservation and use
of America's coastal resources. (Click NOAA image for larger
view of crowded Delaware beach with rip currents present. Please credit
at speeds of up to eight feet per second, rip currents can move faster
than an Olympic swimmer and can easily overpower a victim. Ian Crocker,
four-time Olympic medallist for the United States Swim Team, holds the
men's world record for completing the 100 meter butterfly in 50.40 seconds
— a pace of nearly six feet per second. "A rip current is
one competitor all swimmers should avoid challenging," said Crocker,
who joins NOAA and the NPS in educating the public on rip currents through
his participation in public service announcements.
“Every year, more than 75 million visitors come to swim, fish,
snorkel, scuba dive, boat and enjoy the wildlife and majestic scenery
in the coastal areas of our National Park System. The National Park
Service has had a long partnership with NOAA and its National Weather
Service to enhance our ability to provide visitors with the latest information
on water safety,” said Mary Bomar, director of the National Park
Service. “We are thrilled to partner with NOAA for this important
awareness campaign to bring scientific-based information to the public
about the dangers of rips currents and safety measures that will save
lives in waterways throughout our parks.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the
U.S. Commerce Department, is
celebrating 200 years
of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of
the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation
of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the
1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety
through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events
and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing
environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.
Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS),
NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and
the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that
is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
NOTE: Break the Grip of the Rip is a registered
trademark of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Rip Current information
NOAA Sea Grant
Dennis Feltgen, NOAA
National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622 ext. 127