GEORGETOWN COUNTY – County emergency management officials are urging people to stay out of the ocean on Friday.
“The National Weather Service is predicting strong rip currents. The ocean will really be churning and that can very easily and quickly lead to tragedy,” said Sam Hodge, Georgetown County’s Emergency Manager.
Even strong swimmers could easily be caught up in the kind of ocean conditions expected tomorrow.
“It really is a good idea just to stay out of the water tomorrow,” he said. The rip current risk will be elevated through the weekend. In addition, the longshore current will increase, especially Friday and Saturday.
Beachgoers are reminded that – with the exception of Huntington Beach State Park – there are no lifeguards on Georgetown County beaches.
Beachgoers should also always check surf conditions before going into the water, and be on the lookout for signs that rip currents may be present. The following tips are provided to help families stay safe at the beach this season.
When at the beach:
- Before you leave for the beach, check the latest National Weather Service forecast at www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov for local beach conditions.
- Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards or firefighters and law enforcement officers assigned to beach patrols. These professionals are trained to identify hazards.
- Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist alongside these structures.
- Pay especially close attention to children and persons who are elderly when at the beach.
- Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.
- Be cautious. Always assume rip currents are present even if you don’t see them.
How to spot a rip current:
Though rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the average beachgoer, the following may indicate the presence of rip currents:
- A channel of churning, choppy water
- An area having a notable difference in watercolor
- A line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward
- A break in the incoming wave pattern
- Tip: Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues provided above.
If caught in a rip current:
- Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
- Never swim against the rip current. Stay afloat and signal for help: face the shore, wave your arms, and shout for help.
- 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.
If you see someone in trouble, don’t become a victim too:·
- Get help from a lifeguard, or if one is unavailable, have someone dial 911.
- Throw the rip current victim something that floats – a lifejacket, a cooler or an inflatable ball.
- Shout instructions on how to escape.