Recent deaths as a result of rip currents along the North Carolina coast are tragic reminders of the multiple dangers facing those who go swimming in the ocean or may lack the experience it takes to be an effective, and safe, ocean swimmer.
And sometimes, even experience can’t be an absolute safeguard against ocean risks such as rip currents, which can pull people out to the ocean from shallow breaking waves. A rip current is not an “undertow,” though the terms are often used interchangeably.
A man recently died at Atlantic Beach after trying to rescue two teenage girls from a rip current; another man died after being caught in a rip current the previous day; one boy was killed and another injured in a rip current near Emerald Isle days before.
Coastal communities do what they can, signaling higher risks of swimming with red flags. And lifeguards often have to pull people from waters with rip currents.
The joys of North Carolina’s coast are many. But the currents and waves are particularly strong on the Outer Banks and on other parts of the coast, and an extra measure of caution is needed. Also important is that those who want to swim in the ocean are skilled enough to do so.
Summertime is a good time in North Carolina, but coastal visitors can maximize enjoyment by minimizing risk.