Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, but crews are already busy rescuing people from rip currents off the coast of the Carolinas.
On Wednesday, 10 people were rescued in rip current-related incidents in two hours, according to Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue.
Fifteen others were rescued by North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue in South Carolina, according to the rescue group.
While 25 total rescues took place Wednesday, there were no reported drownings.
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The National Weather Service had issued a moderate rip current risk Wednesday. The same is expected Thursday.
North Carolina has had 54 recorded rip current deaths since 1996, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The U.S. Lifesaving Association estimates that nearly 100 people die in rip currents each year in the United States. Rip currents accounted for more than 80 percent of the 84,900 rescues that lifeguards made in 2016.
National Weather Service offices along the Atlantic Coast release rip current forecasts, including North Carolina offices in Wilmington and Morehead City.
And the Atlantic Beach Fire Department and other lifeguard programs along the North Carolina coast use a flag system to alert beachgoers of swim conditions.
Green flags mean calm surf conditions and safe swimming. Yellow flags mean there are possible rip currents present and a stronger surf. Red flags mean unsafe swimming conditions. Black flags mean swimming is prohibited.
Rip currents often are caused when water gets trapped behind a sandbar and rushes back into the ocean through a narrow channel, according to NOAA. They are present almost every day, though not always at high speeds. They are typically narrow – only about 10 to 20 feet wide – and can move up to 8 feet per second.
Rip currents can appear to be calm areas of the ocean without waves, NOAA warns. A break in the pattern of incoming waves can signal a rip current.
NOAA and the American Red Cross offer tips for staying safe in the ocean:
▪ Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
▪ Never swim alone.
▪ Learn how to swim in the surf.
▪ Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches.
▪ Stay at least 100 feet from piers and jetties.
▪ Wear polarized sunglasses to help you spot signs of riptides – such as a break in the pattern of waves approaching the shore.
▪ Pay especially close attention to children and elderly people.
If caught in a rip current:
▪ Remain calm to conserve energy, and don’t fight against the current.
▪ Think of it as a treadmill that cannot be turned off and that 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 – toward shore.
▪ If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
▪ If you are still unable to reach shore, wave your arms or yell for help to draw attention to yourself.
If you see someone in trouble:
▪ Get help from a lifeguard.
▪ If a lifeguard is not available, call 911.
▪ Try to throw the rip current victim something that floats – a life jacket or an inflatable ball, for example.
▪ Yell instructions on how to escape.
▪ Do not go into the water to try to save someone struggling in a rip current. Many people drown trying to help others, the organizations warn.
For more information on rip currents from NOAA, go to www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.