On Tuesday, September 19th, Officer Dylan Coffman from the Flagler Beach Police Department responded to two swimmers caught in a dangerous rip current. Thanks to Officer Coffman’s efforts, the two swimmers were successfully returned to shore uninjured! Way to go Officer Coffman for going above and beyond to make Flagler Beach safe!
Rip currents may pose a dangerous and unexpected threat to beachgoers. Rip currents account for 80% of beach rescues, with lifeguards rescuing tens of thousands of people each year. About 100 people die each year while struggling against rip currents. The experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offer safety guidelines and advice on how to avoid rip current encounters.
- Prepare by checking local forecasts and conditions before going to the beach.
- Swim near lifeguards and ask them about safety concerns and conditions.
- Keep an eye out for warning flags on the beach.
- Assess your swimming ability before venturing too deeply in the water. In other words, know your limits.
If you do find yourself being pulled out by a rip current, it is important to say calm. The current will not pull you under the water, but it will push you out further into the ocean. The experts from NOAA advise the following.
- Stay calm and assess your conditions.
- Do not fight against the current by trying to swim back toward the shore. You will quickly become exhausted.
- Instead, float and swim parallel to the shore, and eventually, you will escape the current.
- If you are unable to swim parallel to the shore, wave and call for lifeguard support.
While beaches are places for relaxation and vacation, they may pose life-threatening dangers. The best strategies to avoid rip currents are to swim at lifeguard-protected beaches, be aware of rip current conditions, do not enter unsafe waters, and know how to escape a rip current should you find yourself caught in one.
Make sure your next trip to the beach is a safe one with these rip current resources from NOAA:
Rip current safety: https://www.weather.gov/safety/ripcurrent
Beach Safety: https://www.weather.gov/safety/beach
Photos and information courtesy of Flagler Beach Police Department and Brooke Qualls.