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Coast braces for rip currents as Hurricane Danielle churns Atlantic

READ MORE: Coast braces for rip currents as Hurricane Danielle churns Atlantic

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Hurricane Danielle has become the first major hurricane of the season. The category four storm is expected to create some dangerous surf this weekend. Stay out of the water if that's the warning, but you can still have fun at the beach.

So far this summer 300 people have been rescued from rip currents at Wrightsville Beach, including 214 in one day, and the summer's not over yet. This weekend's rip currents are supposed to top the charts as some of the most dangerous rip currents all summer.

"People do not heed the warnings of the lifeguards. They feel that it will happen to someone else, and they still venture out and they go over their limitations," Ocean Rescue Director Dave Baker said.

This weekend, it's going to be especially important to pay attention to warning signs. Lifeguards are putting up red flags to keep people out of the water, but they can't force you to get out.

"It is an advisory," Bake said. "It is not a law that you have to stay out of the ocean."

Out-of-towner Gary Brown said he's already starting to feel a bit of a pull.

"Constant pulling, constant pulling you out," Brown, of Myerstown, PA, said. "You want to come in, it wants to pull you right back out, you know, shove you back into the sea. It can tire you out. If you're out there for a while, it'll peter you out."

With so many rescues this summer, some think it would be safest just to close the beach, but Baker says that's not going to happen.

"There is no way with a limited staff and 13 lifeguard stands to totally close the beach," he said. "You're going to have individuals that want to surf and/or body board and are more than capable of being in those conditions."

Whether you're a local or a tourist, Baker says be smart this weekend.

"Unless you're an experienced swimmer, surfer, waterman/woman, you will find yourself in trouble," he said.

If you do get caught in a rip current, lifeguards say swim parallel to the shore. The thing about rip currents is they're usually really narrow. So if you do get caught in one, you'll likely be out of it in no time. Most importantly, do not panic.

Baker says Wrightsville Beach hotels have rip current safety videos in every room and warning signs posted at the beach to better educate vacationers who may not be as familiar with rip currents. If you're not sure, ask a lifeguard.

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