OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) – Beachgoers in Oak Island are being extra cautious.
“We are going to mainly stay up on the shore,” said tourist Katie Moore.
Many are not going in the water. If they are, it’s not far.
“Knee-deep is probably best,“ said tourist Jessica Clyburn. “Just don’t wanna put myself at risk.”
The red flag flying at the water rescue station sends a message to beachgoers to not swim because of the high risk of rip currents. The dangerous waters are a result of tropical storm Henri off the coast. But, water rescue chief Tony Young hopes the nice weather on land doesn’t fool anyone.
“It’s much more scary to me to have a big storm like that offshore with a nice day here on the beach, because that’s when people really get in trouble,” said Young.
Young says to not take shallow water for granted and that even standing in waist deep water can result in a tragedy.
“It all can happen so fast,” said Young. “You can go from standing there thinking this isn’t so bad to fighting for your life in just a matter of seconds,”
A father and son recently died in a rip current in Oak Island. Neighbors in the community are coming together to get the message out to visitors.
“I’ve seen their pictures on Facebook,” said Young. “They are flying our flag, the rip current warning flag, on their porches on the beach, and they are telling people that they see what the conditions are.”
Young says for anyone deciding to get in the water, whether it is for fun or to help a swimmer in trouble, they should remember to bring a flotation device.
“It can be something as improvised as a cooler that seals really well that will float,” said Young. “Push it out in front of you, let that person grab the cooler instead of you and just hang on, get somebody’s attention and call 911, and we will come get you.”
Young included that Oak Island Water Rescue is working on a project to put QR codes at public beach accesses, which will provide a quick way for beachgoers to check the water conditions.
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