Beachgoers on the Lookout for Rip Currents - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Beachgoers on the Lookout for Rip Currents

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OCEAN CITY, Md.- Hurricane Bertha may have been downgraded to a tropical storm, but the Ocean City Beach Patrol remains on high alert for rip currents and dangerous shore breaks.

Ocean City Beach Patrol reports at least 38 rescues Tuesday.  However, ambulance calls were high for injuries from shore breaks.  The beach patrol says it had at least 19 injuries reported due to the shore breaks.

According to beach patrol, a shore break is a wave that breaks directly on, or very close to the shore. This happens when the beach is very steep at the shoreline.

These strong waves bring a few dark memories to life for Summer Vorsteg.  She said she was just a little girl when she fell victim to a  rip current and rescuers had to save her life.

" It was very scary because you're treading water for minutes, until they[rescuers]  get there, and it's pretty scary ,especially because I was pretty little too," Vorsteg said.

Rip Currents, a strong narrow current flowing outward of the beach, makes people like Janet Dutton worried. She said it is the reason she stays out of the ocean.

"Oh, I don't go into the water because of rip currents that are in the ocean, and I'm just afraid that I don't know the techniques to be able to get myself out," Dutton said.

Dutton enrolled her daughter, Ellie and her friend Summer in the Ocean City Patrol Camp, which trains people on ways to keep safe at sea.

"I feel a lot better because I know what to do instead of like freaking out; I know to just stay calm and swim parallel to shore,” Ellie said.

Jeff Butta , who is visiting the beach from Baltimore, said the waves seem a lot higher than usual.

“They seemed to get a little bit bigger today, so far. Yesterday was kind of calm, but i'm expecting they'll probably get bigger before it's over with," Butta said.

Warning signs about how to swim out of rip currents are posted along the beach; not far from lifeguards sitting high above the crowd.

Lieutenant Mike Stone, with the Ocean City Beach Patrol, describes what rip currents look like from a lifeguard's vantage point.

"If there is a rip, it's almost like a cloudy mushroom shape where the water is rushing out," Stone said.

Stone said if a swimmer is ever caught in a current, that person should try their best to keep calm.

"The most important thing to do is just relax and don't panic,” Stone said.  “That's really when people get in trouble is when they panic."

Stone said swimmers should swim parallel to the waves until the current weakens. If they cannot escape, he said swimmers should float, tread water and wave to get a lifeguard's attention.




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