Emergency officials urge caution as rip current risk remains high during weekend

Emergency officials urge caution as rip current risk remains high during weekend

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The severe weather moved out of the Grand Strand Friday night but the risk for rip currents will remain high heading into the weekend.

A double red flag was displayed across the beaches in Myrtle Beach on Friday.

The Myrtle Beach Fire Department posted the alert on its Facebook page. The double red flag means no entry in the ocean.

The Myrtle Beach Fire Department said it will have four crews out patrolling the beach due to the elevated rip current risk and also the increase in visitors because of Easter and spring break.

“Obviously it’s an extremely busy weekend and we want to make sure people are going to be safe. There’s a double red flag right now on the beach which means you can’t enter the water so we want people to know it’s not safe to be in the water right now,” Myrtle Beach Fire Lt. Christain Sliker said.

Caution: Double Red Flag!!!! With the severe weather in our area, MBFD urges everyone to stay out of the Ocean. We are...

Posted by Myrtle Beach Fire Department on Friday, April 19, 2019

Slinker added that the flags will change as conditions change throughout the weekend and if anyone is unsure what the water conditions are, they can ask any patrol unit along the beach.

The Georgetown County Emergency Management is also urging people to stay out of the ocean on Friday and possibly through the entire holiday weekend.

According to a press release, Georgetown County Emergency Manager Sam Hodge stated the National Weather Service is predicting strong rip currents and the ocean will “really be churning.”

While lounging on the beach is fine, Hodge said it’s best to stick to the sand, as even strong swimmers could easily be caught up in the kind of ocean conditions expected on Friday.

“It really is a good idea just to stay out of the water tomorrow (Friday),” he said in a statement.

The rip current risk will be elevated through the weekend. In addition, the longshore current will increase, especially Friday and Saturday, the release stated.

Below is information from the Georgetown County Government about rip currents.

How to spot a rip current:

Though rip currents are often not readily or easily identifiable to the average beachgoer, the following may indicate the presence of rip currents:

· A channel of churning, choppy water

· An area having a notable difference in water color

· A line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward

· A break in the incoming wave pattern

· Tip: Polarized sunglasses make it easier to see the rip current clues provided above.

If caught in a rip current:

· Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.

· Never swim against the rip current. Stay afloat and signal for help: face the shore, wave your arms, and shout for help.

· 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.

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