ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) – There have been three rip current-related deaths off the North Carolina coast in less than a week.
On Monday, Atlantic Beach Fire-Rescue said a father died after going into cardiac arrest trying to save his daughters caught in a rip current off Shackleford Banks. His name was Rick Brown and was visiting from Tennessee.
On Friday, a 71-year-old man got caught in a rip current in Frisco last Friday afternoon.
And last Thursday, a 67-year-old man drowned off Ocracoke Island.
At Atlantic Beach, a flag at the lifeguard station warned that there was a caution risk of rip currents. They can occur at any distance in the water, but rescue officials said they’re especially bad around here.
[That means it’s already] a busy season for those making sure you and your family are safe in the ocean.
Atlantic Beach Fire Chief Adam Synder estimated rescuers saved 100 people in Carteret County alone.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people are unaware if they’re even caught in a rip current, initially, until they start swimming ashore and realize that they’re not making any progress,” said Chief Adam Snyder, Atlantic Beach Fire Department. “That’s when they end up panicking and getting fatigued and, ultimately, drowning.”
Atlantic Beach lifeguards identify rip current locations every morning and place a flag indicating the danger at their huts.
So that means when you’re out enjoying a day at the beach, you need to pay close attention to those flags at the lifeguard stations.
If you’re caught in a rip current, lifeguard Peter Carlton said the best thing you can do is yell for help, “If a person is stuck in a rip current, the best thing they can do for me, if they need help, is to let me know, wave their hands, scream help, and then other people around will try to relay that message to a professional rescuer.”
Lifeguards are on duty from 9-5 every day.
Rescue officials said they’re well-staffed to handle any emergency situations in the water.
The Atlantic Beach lifeguards cover 843 feet of beach and the other 4.8 meters are covered by the Atlantic Beach Fire Department.
The fire chief said strong winds are why rip currents are worse this year.
In 2015, there was only one rip current-related death. It happened in Emerald Isle.