Myrtle Beach Police issue red flag warning - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach Police issue red flag warning

Red warning flag flies along Myrtle Beach Monday Red warning flag flies along Myrtle Beach Monday

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach Police Department has issued a red flag warning to swimmers.

The current weather conditions are the cause of the red flag, swimmers are advised to only swim knee deep until further notice, according to police. The current weather conditions have elevated the risk for rip currents.

"The water's real choppy," said Wesley Cox, a manager with Lack's Beach Service. "We've got a long-shore current pulling to the north, but as far as rip current activity, knock on wood, I haven't really seen a lot. I've seen a few rips here and there, but nothing of any magnitude that they were last Thursday."

On Thursday, Cox said there were more than 15 rescues between 2nd Ave Pier and Springmaid Pier.

"I saw some rip currents stronger than I've ever seen in my occupation of being out here, so it was definitely a bad, bad day to wander out in the ocean," he said.

Cox said people do sometimes get upset when they're asked to get out of the water during a red flag warning. This was the second red flag warning within four days. Cox said the ocean is unpredictable.

"This is definitely nothing abnormal," he said. "We've definitely been staying busy, but this is what we train for and we're ready for."

Lack's Beach Service recently did some training with Myrtle Beach Fire Department, which is launching its own water rescue team.

Battalion Chief Bruce Arnel said a few months ago the department decided to give its members the opportunity to try out for a water rescue team in order to provide more assistance to Myrtle Beach Police Department Beach Patrol. The firefighters were timed on how fast they could swim 100 yards. 

The top 21 swimmers were then tested further on swimming, water treading, diving and victim towing.

There are now three teams of seven people who are training to become Red Cross certified as well as United States Lifesaving Association open water rescue certified. Arnel said the team will be one of the few on the East Coast with the USLA certification.

"We're really excited about conjoining forces with them and doing everything we can," Cox said. "The more eyes and help we have out here, the better it is for everyone."

Arnel said the team won't be responding to every rescue call, but instead, providing help to beach patrol when back up is needed.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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