KURE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — More than 15 people have died at North Carolina beaches since May. Four of those deaths have been in our area within the past couple of weeks.
Now, some ocean rescue teams are considering keeping lifeguards on the beach beyond the Labor Day weekend.
There is still a high threat for rip currents, so Kure Beach Ocean Rescue is warning you to stay out of the water.
It may be fall, but these summer-like temperatures have visitors like Joyce Valentin-Miranda bringing her family to the beach.
“Mother Nature is in control of this ocean,” Valentin-Miranda said.
Kure Beach Ocean Rescue Director JD Lanier says the beautiful beach weather can be misleading on what’s happening in the water.
“The swell that we’ve had the past really month with all the hurricanes that have been coming up the coast, it’s created huge troughs which have really brought up these rip currents,” Lanier said.
He says there are no lifeguard stands on the beach after Labor Day, which means they don’t have a way of putting flags out to warn people about the water conditions.
If there’s an emergency, there may be a significant difference in the response time.
“Having guards on the beach is less than a 30 second response … not having guards on the beach, depending on where it is on the beach to be honest with you, so if it’s all the way down at the south end, or all the way down on the north side for us, you know it just depends on traffic and where they’re at on the beach,” Lanier said.
Lanier encourages people to keep an out on the National Weather Service and the media for rip current conditions, but says just stay out of the ocean.
That warning is something Valentin-Miranda is not taking lightly.
“I have three grandchildren and I am not allowing them into the water right now,” Valentin-Miranda said.
Lanier says they’ll be meeting with the mayor in the next week to discuss possibly having lifeguards on the beach past Labor Day.
As far as the identities of the drowning victims, police have not released that information.