Drownings This Week Underscore High Risk of Rip Currents at Jersey Shore
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — The entire Jersey Shore is at high risk of rip currents on Saturday.
"It's not a great beach day, not only because of the clouds, rain, and humidity, but also because of the elevated rip current risk. These high-risk days only happen a couple times a year (if that), so please take it seriously," WPG Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said, adding to heed the instructions of the lifeguards.
According to the National Weather Service, the high risk of rip currents means dangerous and potentially life threatening conditions exist for all people entering the surf.
The power of the rip current was demonstrated on Thursday night when three teens died at beaches in Belmar and Atlantic City while one Belmar teen was on life support. All were swimming at beaches where lifeguards were not on duty.
Lifeguards have a good idea of rip current hot spots along their beaches, but you can also help keep yourself out of trouble by identifying areas where waves aren't breaking. That's a strong indicator of rip currents, according to Bill Stull, a lieutenant with Upper Township Beach Patrol.
The National Weather Service says you can spot a potential rip current by watching for these factors:
- Channel of churning, choppy water
- Area having a notable difference in water color
- Line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
- Break in the incoming wave pattern
- One, all or none the clues may be visible.
If you find yourself caught in a rip current, the NWS has some advice to follow:
- Don't fight the current. It's a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second, but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second—faster than an Olympic swimmer.
- Relax and float to conserve energy. Staying calm may save your life.
- Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you escape the current's pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
- If you feel you can't reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: Wave and yell; swim parallel to the beach.