My Turn, Your Turn: Ocean deaths

By Gary McNair - bio|email

This has been a deadly year on the North Carolina Beaches.  In New Hanover County alone four people have died in the Atlantic Ocean.

Our heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one - as does the heart of this concerned coastal resident who wrote us this email:

The ocean can be difficult to swim in for a strong swimmer - it is not a pool.  It is a beautiful gift from nature, and very refreshing on a hot day, but it is also very powerful and can overwhelm you in an instant.  There should be more efforts put into encouraging general water safety at the beach, not just rip current safety. I myself don't get in the ocean above my knees - I am not a strong swimmer and I don't want to put myself or someone else in a potentially dangerous rescue situation.  You've got to respect the ocean's power and don't assume someone can rescue you if you get in trouble.

That's good advice for all of us, and our hope is the rest of the summer is celebrated without another tragedy.

That's your turn from one very concerned beach resident.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Emailed response from viewers:

Although I am a good swimmer and have spent many years swimming in the Atlantic I respect the ocean's power.  I have 2 sons and routinely talk to them about both the ocean's beauty and her power.  With 4 deaths at our area beaches this year isn't it time we do something more active to prevent this from occuring...if rip currents are visible...and I believe they are...couldn't there be some system to have people avoid these areas completely.  I am certain a flyover with a chopper or plane could identify these ocean currents and with this information couldn't there be a way to prevent anyone from entering within a certain distance of these hotspots (I believe these currents develop over time and remain fairly static for considerable periods; they don't just suddenly pop up and as quickly dissappear)...I can only hope we can come up with something before more people fall victim to an ocean we all love.

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