MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Beach season has just begun, and already a tragic drowning on the shores of Pawleys Island last weekend. The drowning happened in an area residents say is notorious for dangerous rip currents.
Ann Wilson, a park ranger with Myrtle Beach State Park, says the rip currents are like treadmills of water pulling away from shore and there are ways you can see where they are.
"Often times, especially at low tides, when the water is a little bit clearer, you're gonna see maybe a break between the sand bars and see water coming out. Sometimes it's discolored, sandier or dirtier, because again that water is shooting out, perpendicular to the water so often times you can see it."
Rip currents will not pull you under, but will take you away from shore. If you feel you're in one, stay calm and swim parallel to shore, Wilson adds.
"Rip current is gonna form and we are normally going to see them at lower tides. But you have a sand bar, so it's a hill of sand out in the ocean, and then there's a break in the middle of it and the water is gonna shoot through. Think of it like a treadmill of water shooting through a break in the water."
There are signs at every state park beach access, something Wilson says, you should take note of.
"Before you go out, look at that sign and talk about what a rip current is, how you get out with your friends and family. Don't assume everyone knows what it is. Have a plan so you know what to do."
Wilson says the key to getting out of the dangerous path of this so called "treadmill of water" is to stay calm and swim parallel to shore.
"Statistics says about 100 people drown each year from rip currents throughout the United States. And we don't even get close to 100 shark attacks in the United States each year. So you really have to put in perspective what is dangerous. When you take out all the sharks, stinging jellyfish and stingrays, the ocean is still a very dangerous place."
Also before you head to the beach, the First Alert Weather app will have any marine advisories from the National Weather service, including rip currents information, at the top of the screen.