Rip current warning issued for most of Outer Banks, Crystal Coast
EMERALD ISLE, Carteret County - The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazard warning for rip currents on Friday affecting beaches from Topsail Beach in the South to Duck Beach in the north.
The hazard will remain in effect through the evening Friday, and could remain into the weekend.
The rip currents, according to the NWS, will be at their strongest a couple hours before at after low tide, which is projected for 7 p.m. Despite the flags and additional lifeguards out on the beaches, some folks have still been getting in the water Friday.
The Emerald Isle Fire Department says even on days without an active rip current, water rescues have been all too common this year. In fact, they've had 64 rescues already this season and summer doesn't officially start until next week.
"The rip currents are a big reason for almost all of those," EIFD firefighter Zane Paddock tells NewsChannel 12. "It's nice out, but the waves, they pull you and knock you down."
If caught in a rip current, NWS advises to swim in a direction following the shoreline, rather than trying to fight the current. If tired, float or tread water until out of the rip current.
If you are unable to escape the rip current, face the shoreline and wave and call for help.
Paddock said avoiding swimming on days where the rip current hazard is high is the best course of action. If you do go in to the water, he said, stay along the shoreline where the water rises no higher than knee-level.