As Hurricane Bill continues to barrel up the Atlantic near the East Coast of the U.S., those heading to the beach this weekend may want to keep a few suggestions in mind on how to stay safe.
Weather experts are saying that although a direct hit in the U.S. is unlikely, the hurricane may still cause dangerous waves and rip tides along the shore.
The American Red Cross warns rip tides can come suddenly and be deadly. That is why it is always wise to swim only in designated areas where a lifeguard is present. It is also a good idea to check beach conditions before entering the water, either through inquiring with the lifeguard, reading any warning signs that may be posted or checking local weather news.
If a person becomes caught in a rip current, the Red Cross says it is important to swim parallel to shore until free of the current. Trying to swim against it while still carried by the tide can result in exhaustion and can lead to drowning.
Only when the current turns is it a good time to free oneself and swim back toward shore.
If the swimmer feels they won’t make it in to the shore, they should draw attention to themselves by waving and calling for help.
If witnessing someone caught in a rip tide, the organization suggests getting help from a lifeguard, calling 911 and, if possible, throwing something that floats – it can be a cooler or an inflatable toy -and yelling instructions on how to get out of the tide.