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June 4, 2012
NOAA Rip Current Sign.
High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
As Tropical Storm Beryl churned along the southeastern U.S. over Memorial Day weekend, kicking up choppy seas and high surf, coastal communities got a somber reminder of the dangers posed by rip currents.
Although NOAA’s National Weather Service issued rip current warnings from Florida through Virginia there were hundreds of beach rescues and at least one death reported.
Rip currents are narrow channels of fast-moving water that pull swimmers away from the shore. They can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes. They are common along the U.S. coastline even when the skies are clear. As more people head to the beach this summer, rip current rescues will rise—as, unfortunately, will deaths. Last year, 41 people lost their lives in rip currents in the United States, but on average more than one hundred people die each year from them.
NOAA, along with the U.S. Lifesaving Association and the National Park Service, are working to reduce the death toll by educating people throughout the year, and especially this week during Rip Current Awareness Week, about the danger of rip currents and how to avoid them or survive if caught in one.
“The National Weather Service provides rip current forecasts, so I urge people to check with us before heading to the beach this summer,” said Laura Furgione, acting director of the National Weather Service. "Knowing the conditions before you go will ensure you have a safe and fun day at the beach."
“Each year, America’s beach lifeguards rescue more than 50,000 swimmers from rip currents,” said B. Chris Brewster, president of the United States Lifesaving Association. “Swimming at a guarded beach can reduce your chances of drowning to 1 in 18 million.”
Life guards rescue victim from rip current.
High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
Rip Current Safety Tips
Before you go:
Beach communities interested in erecting signs featuring rip current safety information on the beach may contact the National Weather Service’s Rip Current Awareness Program for details: Deborah.Jones@noaa.gov; 301-713-1677 x 124.
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