Sunday proved to be a dangerous day for swimming at a North Carolina beach.
More than 40 people were rescued from rip currents at Wrightsville Beach between 9 a.m., when lifeguards started working, and late afternoon, said Dave Baker, ocean rescue director for the town of Wrightsville Beach.
He said red flags were flying at the beach all day
Red flags indicate a high rip current hazard and, when they are flying, swimmers are discouraged from getting in the water as “conditions are life threatening to all people who enter the surf,” according to the town.
The risk for rip currents on Sunday on Wrightsville Beach and across the North Carolina coast was moderate, according to the National Weather Service, meaning swimmers should swim near a lifeguard and “heed the advice of local beach patrol and flag warning systems.”
“Regardless of the color of the signal flags displayed, hazards may be present in the ocean at any time. Rip currents can form suddenly and other dangerous conditions could exist,” the town said.
About 60,000 swimmers are rescued each year by lifeguards at beaches, according to the town, and rip current rescues account for more than 80 percent of those.
If you are caught in a rip current, the NWS says to swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current and then swim to shore. If you can’t escape it, float or tread water and wave or call for help, the NWS says.