ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) — While many people are excited about celebrating the Fourth of July along the coast of North Carolina, the start of summer hasn’t been so nice to beachgoers as rip currents have proved deadly.
While the sun was shining and waters were calm Friday, the Atlantic Beach Fire Chief Adam Snyder said it doesn’t mean there isn’t any danger.
“We are expecting this Fourth of July weekend — not only this weekend but this entire week pretty much —almost be a record week.”
Lucky for beachgoers, the current is low this weekend.
“The surf has been down; the wind has been calm,” said Snyder. “We have had very calm waters which is great for us.”
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any danger.
“It can be nice and calm in the morning time, then all of a sudden, the wind picks up which creates waves,” said Snyder.
“It can change,” said assistant life guard Lindsay Haynes. “The wind can pick up and the surf becomes stronger. It can go from a green flag day all the way up to a red flag.
Officials said there is always a risk for rip currents regardless of the color of the flag.
They say the only way to be safe is to swim at the guarded beach where lifeguards are trained to watch the signs.
“We’re looking for non-changing waves, fast channel of moving water,” said Haynes. “You’ll see it go outwards toward the sandbar. There is always a chance we will change those flags throughout the day so watch the towers and see if the conditions have changed.”
“Know what your limitations are and your abilities,” said Snyder. “If you’re not a good swimmer, don’t be going over your head in water. It’s just as easy to drown in flat water as it is in rough water.”
The chief said in past years on the Fourth of July, they’ve to save as many as 150 people a day from the water but hope that isn’t the case this year.
He said as long as you stay on a lifeguarded beach there will be someone there to help you.