BALTIMORE – Coast Guard officials are urging beachgoers to exercise extreme caution during and after the passage of Hurricane Lee, especially for children and inexperienced swimmers, due to the threat of dangerous beach conditions.
Strong rip currents and rough surf along the Mid-Atlantic coast are expected to make the water dangerous — even for the strongest swimmers.
Even if the surface weather clears and beach conditions look favorable this weekend, rip currents remain a grave danger to recreational beachgoers and boaters.
"Although Hurricane Lee is not expected to make landfall along the Mid-Atlantic coastal region, there will be dangerous conditions along our shores,” said Capt. Kate Higgins-Bloom, commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “Rip currents are a hidden threat to even the most experienced swimmers. With the increased number of tragedies following Tropical Storm Idalia over Labor Day weekend, we urge everyone to remain cautious. If you’re spending time at the shore over the next few days, keep yourself and loved ones safe by paying close attention to surf conditions and warning signs posted by local authorities.”
A rip current is a localized current that flows away from the shoreline toward the ocean. Rip currents move perpendicular to shore and can be very strong. A person caught in a rip current can be swept away from shore very quickly. The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since most rip currents are less than 80 feet wide.
The most important thing to remember if you are ever caught in a rip current is not to panic. Continue to breathe, try to keep your head above water, and don’t exhaust yourself fighting against the force of the current.
Immediately report any life-threating, on-water emergencies to the Coast Guard on VHF radio channel 16. When using a VHF radio, the Coast Guard can determine your location to expedite sending help to you.
Maritime emergencies can also be reported to Coast Guard District 5 Command Center at 757-398-6390.