More than a dozen rip current rescues this weekend


WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — It’s summer time in the Cape Fear and the weather agrees.

Summer heat is sending many to the beach, but rough surf conditions this weekend led to some rescues.

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National Weather Service reports 12 rescues at Wrighstville Beach on Saturday with about a quarter of that on Sunday.

Although that number could be alarming, Ocean Rescue Director Dave Baker told WWAY it’s not. He says, when hearing the number of rescues, it’s important to consider the size of the crowd and what warrants a lifeguard to head into the water.

He says it is not always a life-threatening situation, but beach-goers should always pay attention to the flags.

“I haven’t been caught in a rip current,” Sam Tripp, a beach goer on Monday, said. “My brother has before though. I was there and thankfully helped him to get out. It wasn’t really scary, but it was scary at first.”

Sam Tripp says he’s never been caught in a rip current, but WWAY caught up with one person who has and he says speaking from experience “stay calm, if caught in one.”

“One time, I was with my family — my little brother and sister — we got caught in a rip current and we just kind of let it pull us out and kind of just swam to the side,” Cooper Henry, a beach goer, said.

Henry recalls a time he was caught in a rip current, but he managed to safely get out the water and, just minutes later, he says he was right back in!

“You have to remember the rip current is not going to pull you out like miles out to sea,” Henry said. “You are probably going to go maybe like 100- 200 yards out, but then it will stop so then you can swim out. The important thing is to just not tire yourself out.”

Henry says he’s at the beach at least three times a week, so hearing 12 rip current rescues in a day this time of year isn’t alarming.

A National Weather Service Spokeswoman Victoria Olivia says there have been many days without any rescues even during the peak of the summer, so the daily average at Wrightsville Beach in July is about 2 a day and, in August, 1 rescue a day. She says there is a peak in strong rip current reports in September, which she says is likely due to the peak of the hurricane season.

Six local ocean rescue agencies and beach patrols report their daily number of rescues to the National Weather Service Wilmington office. This year Kure Beach was added to the list.

Olivia says these reports help their surf forecast since there are no sensors at the beaches for reporting rip currents, surf heights and potential hazards.