If you're caught in a rip current, here's how to keep yourself safe

If you're caught in a rip current, here's how to keep yourself safe
Crews with Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue simulated rip current rescues Thursday morning. (Source: WECT)
Crews with Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue simulated rip current rescues Thursday morning. (Source: WECT)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Rip currents happen often at our nation's beaches. Thursday marks the official start of summer and Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue crews said it's crucial to know what to do if you get caught in a rip current.

"Don't panic and relax as best as you can," said Lt. John Scull with Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue. "Try to swim out of the current if you can, parallel to shore, and know that we are coming to get you."

The ocean rescue team simulated rip current rescues Thursday morning with help from the Coast Guard.

"We work really close with ocean rescue and what they do here," said Ryan Lederer with the Coast Guard. "We train with them, at minimum, two times a year just trying to keep each other informed with what we do."

Staff members swam in the water, pretending to be caught in a rip current as lifeguards came to the rescue and practiced lifesaving techniques.

Scull's crews have saved 60 swimmers from rip currents in the past 30 days. He said that's about the number of rescues he expects this time of year.

"They are unaware of their surroundings," Scull said of swimmers who get caught in rip currents. "With the longshore currents that move people north to south on the beach, those longshore currents can bring you into a rip current."

If you see a swimmer struggling to stay afloat, Scull encourages beachgoers to resist the urge to be a Good Samaritan.

Instead, he recommends alerting lifeguards and/or calling 911 because you could be dragged under with the swimmer if you decide to save them yourself.

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved.