Coast Guard advises public to be aware of rip currents, high surf conditions

1st Coast Guard District NewsNEW YORK – The Coast Guard and the National Weather Service are urging mariners and beachgoers to be aware of the dangers of high surf and rip currents.

“Even when hurricanes and tropical storms are far offshore, they can present dangers for waterborne activities,” said Capt. Joseph Vojvodich, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “Recreational boaters, surfers and swimmers are cautioned against the dangers of heavy surf and rip tides these storms may cause.”

South-facing beaches and inlets along Long Island, N.Y., are subject to these dangerous conditions. In some areas the currents and shallow water may result in breaking surf across inlets. Mariners are advised to assess inlet conditions prior to attempting a transit as the surf may create hazardous conditions that limit rescuers’ ability to assist victims.

High surf also creates rip currents that can drag swimmers away from the beach and lead to drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted. This summer there have been several rescues of boaters, swimmers and board sport enthusiasts, who found themselves caught in dangerous surf and strong rip currents.

Rip currents cause approximately 100 deaths annually in the United States, more than all other natural hazards except heat and floods, according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association.

Here are some tips on how to avoid and survive rip currents:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
  • Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
  • If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
  • Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself; face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

For more information on rip currents, please visit the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration website.

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