Coast Guard advises public to be aware of rip currents

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Due to the approach of Tropical Storm Hanna the National Weather Service has issued a high risk of rip current warning for the North Carolina and Virginia coasts

The Coast Guard is urging beach goers to be aware of the dangers of rip currents in their area.
Rip currents can drag swimmers away from the beach and lead to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted. According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) rip currents cause approximately 100 deaths annually in the United States, more than all other natural hazard except heat and floods. Over 80% of rescues by surf beach lifeguards are due to rip currents totaling 18,000 lifeguard rescues a year.

Tips on how to avoid and survive 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 towards 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.

* 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 and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

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

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