Rip Current Safety
This letter is in response to the publicity regarding shark sightings and shark attacks. The concern about the danger is certainly valid and any tips to prevent injuries and fatalities are to be respected.
According to Stephen Pfaff with the local National Weather Service, “Shark attacks account for an average of .5 deaths/year while rip current fatalities average 100/year.” Our daughter, Crystal, died in a Wrightsville Beach rip current in 2002.
Tourists and local residents keep lifeguards busy with rescues. Sadly sometimes fatalities still occur. However, due to increased rip current education, more beach visitors have learned that being a good swimmer is not enough to survive a rip current. Instead, heed warnings from TV weather forecasters, newspaper alerts, beach flags, and lifeguards. Also, remember SCAPS – Stay Calm and Parallel Swim with the shore, if caught in the powerful pull of a rip current. Thankfully this important advice is occasionally included in newspaper reports and TV weather forecasts.
Although shark attacks get much attention, the risks related to rip currents are far greater. Ongoing work by agencies such as Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue, the National Weather Service, Sea Grant, and each country’s emergency management staff promote life-saving efforts. To learn more about a tragedy like ours, refer to www.ripcurrentsnoaa.gov
JoAnn and Gary Swart
Castle Hayne, NC