MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Summer is officially here, and many are heading to the ocean to cool off. But just last week, two people lost their lives from rip currents in our area.
As you head toward the water, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and check out the signs along the sand warning of the day’s conditions and potential hazards.
Flags are posted along the beaches and each color has a meaning.
- Double Red: Water closed to the public
- Single Red: High hazard, high surf and (or) strong currents
- Yellow: Medium hazard, moderate surf and (or) currents
- Green: Low hazard, calm conditions but still exercise caution
- Blue: Sign of dangerous marine line
Officials say rip currents are strong currents of water moving away from the shore and they’re a risk for even the strongest swimmers.
Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department spoke about what to do if you get caught in a rip current.
“If you’re a good swimmer and you feel strong enough, we suggest you swim parallel to the beach to get out of the rip current to make your way to the shore,” Mitchell said. “If you’re very tired or not a good swimmer, we suggest you signal for help and focus on being relaxed.”
Mitchell added if you see someone stuck in a rip current, don’t rush in to help. Instead, call for the lifeguard.
“We recommend that you don’t go in and try to rescue them because now we could possibly have two victims,” Mitchell said. “Again, you want to call 911 or alert the closest lifeguard, and another option if you do have a boogie board or a raft or something that’s around floating as we suggest, you put that in the rip current and that might take the floating device out to the victim in trouble and might give them something to float on to help.”
Mitchell noted if you’re planning to hop in for a swim, he says a safe distance is around your waist and to check the wave action before going deeper, but to not go past your chest level. Again, he encouraged speaking with the closest lifeguard about conditions before going in.