Strong rip currents, that keep catching swimmers off guard, have kept Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue unseasonably busy.
The term “rip current” has been a hot one lately in Carolina Beach, and not in a good way.
Area businesses are joining forces to help make visitors aware of the dangers of the ocean.
“Local business are getting together, putting up posters, and it’s a reinforcement on a daily basis, that reminds you often enough that when you go to the beach this is something to take a look at,” said Bob Lewis of Last Resort.
Signs illustrating what a rip current looks like and what to do if you’re caught in one will soon be adorning the windows of many Carolina Beach businesses.
“A strong rip current is stronger than an Olympic swimmer,” said Simon Sanders of Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue.
Rip currents typically form along the breaks in the sandbar, but in Carolina Beach, there is a sandbar that runs along the whole length of the beach.
“Beach erosion has formed a sandbar that’s about 20 to 30 yards offshore, and it just makes rip currents more severe this season,” Sanders said.
When you look at the ocean, you can tell where the rip currents are because the water is generally slightly discolored, and appears to be smooth and slick.
“A lot of incidents we’ve been having this year is that people will be standing on the sandbar, they’ll just walk off the side, not realizing they’re right in the channel, and not realize they’re being pulled away by the rip current,” said Sanders.
The best advice if you’re caught in a rip is to swim parallel to shore, out of the rip pulling you out to sea, and then back into shore away from where the rip was.
Before stepping foot in the water, ocean rescue warns swimmers to check the lifeguard stands for rip conditions; if a red flag is flying, swimming conditions are hazardous.
With businesses teaming up to warn swimmers when they’re not at the beach, ocean rescue hopes the summer season will become a safer one.
So far this season in Carolina Beach, there have been more than a hundred ocean rescues.