North Myrtle Beach lifeguards rescue one from rip current

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH (WMBF) -  This week is rip current awareness week. On Tuesday, lifeguards in North Myrtle Beach had to make two water rescues, one of which a swimmer was rescued from a rip current.

According to NOAA, more than 80 percent of all water rescues are the result of rip currents. Just this weekend, a man in Carolina Beach drowned because of a rip current.

To stay safe, there are a number of things you can do.

First, pay attention to the color of the flag when you're at the beach. They're usually located near the lifeguard stand. There was a yellow flag at the 6th Avenue South Beach Access in North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday. Yellow means there is a moderate risk for rip currents.

Every year, 100 people drown after getting caught in rip currents.  Last summer, rip currents kept North Myrtle Beach lifeguards busy.

"Last year was a record season, we had over 400 water rescues. I think half of those were done just on the week of Fourth of July," said Monty Reed, the Lifeguard Coordinate for the city.

Rip currents happen when powerful currents of water flow back away from the shore and into the ocean. They won't pull you under. They just pull you back. So if you are caught in one, stay calm. The way to escape is to swim parallel to the shore.

"Where you see people get into trouble is the fear, and they don't stay calm." said Reed.

Staying calm is one thing the North Myrtle Beach Aquatics Center is trying to teach adult swimmers. Free swimming classes will be hosted in June. Instructors say they see a significant number of adults that, surprisingly, can't swim.

"Adults get terrified, they can be ashamed that they can't swim and we want to help them overcome that," said Judy Childers, the Aquatics Director.

Even the strongest swimmer can get over taken by a rip current. That's why other precautions come in handy as well.

"Swim in front of the lifeguard, and if I have my kids out here, I would go and introduce my kids and say, 'These are my kids please, keep us safe,'" Reed advises.

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