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Keeping You Safe: Paying attention to rip currents, beach warning signs

“They can happen at any beach, with any waves, at any time,”
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 11:15 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - This week’s “Keeping You Safe” dives into rip currents and what beachgoers should do if they become caught up in one.

Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell with Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue said it’s important to learn about hazardous rip currents.

“They can happen at any beach with any waves at any time,” Mitchell said. “The water will be a little different color, it will be moving outwards. You know if there are toys or objects that are moving out that way, is one way to see it.”

Mitchell said swimmers who get caught in a rip current need to stay calm and swim parallel to the beach.

“If you are tired, the main thing is to stay relaxed, focus on treading water, staying above the water and signal for help,” he said.

Swimmers also need to pay attention to the beach warning flags, as Mitchell said the water conditions can change hourly.

The flags range from green to double red, the latter meaning to stay out of the water. The red flag means hazardous rip currents.

“A lot of times when you see a single red, we’re probably going to try and keep you waist deep, knee deep, to keep you out of that danger,” Mitchell said.

Finally, there should always be a pair of eyes always watching the kids in the water. Mitchell calls it a designated water watcher.

“Sometimes there’s confusion that an uncle or relative is watching the kid when they’re not. So, definitely designate. Have the talk with your group and designate a water watcher to make sure someone is watching people swimming,” he said.

Go to www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com to learn more about beach conditions and rip currents.

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