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Great Lakes Article:

Beach season brings threat of rip current deaths
Posted June 6, 2005

(Myrtle Beach) - The beginning of beach season brings worry of rip currents.

This week is the first national Rip Current Awareness Week and the National Weather Service and other groups want to spread the word about the dangers of rip currents. Rip currents annually claim more than 100 lives in the United States and have caused 27 deaths in the Carolinas during the past four years.

With millions of tourists expected to visit beaches in the Carolinas this summer, safety experts plan to put magnets in hotels and rental homes with instructions on how to escape the currents.

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, including the Great Lakes. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.

With increasing coastal populations, rip currents will continue to be a serious hazard at surf beaches.

Tips if you get caught in a rip current (NOAA):

Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
Never fight against the current.
Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--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 by waving your arm and yelling for help.

















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