Four more people have died from strong rip currents along the North Carolina coast over the past 10 days.
The tragedies include; 21-year-old Justin Eakes, who died at Atlantic Beach trying to help his friends, a 56-year-old man, who suffered from a cardiac arrest and drowned in the rip current after saving 2 teenage girls at Atlantic Beach, and 2 teenage boys, 16-year-old Tyreese Worsley and 17-year-old Elijah Hinnant, who were both caught in a rip current and drowned at a beach on Emerald Isle.
According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), our state has seen a total of 54 rip current deaths since 1996, and the death rate has continued to increase since then;
The NOAA posted numerous strategies for staying safe in the ocean:
▪ Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
▪ Never swim alone.
▪ Learn how to swim in the surf.
▪ Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
▪ Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
▪ Stay at least 100 feet from piers and jetties.
▪ Wear polarized sunglasses to help you spot signs of riptides – such as a break in the pattern of waves approaching the shore.
▪ Pay especially close attention to children and elderly people.
If caught in a rip current:
▪ Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
▪ Never fight against the current.
▪ Think of it as a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
▪ Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle – away from the current – toward shore.
▪ If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
▪ If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arms and yelling for help.
If you see someone in trouble:
▪ Get help from a lifeguard.
▪ If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 911.
▪ Throw the rip current victim something that floats – a life jacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
▪ Yell instructions on how to escape.
▪ Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
Many beach goers are also starting to wear the new miniaturized emergency flotation devices.
To find out more information about rip currents and how to stay safe while swimming in the ocean, you can visit www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.