Dozens rescued at NC beaches over Labor Day weekend; more rough surf, rip currents expected

North Carolina news

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Labor Day weekend brought busy beaches and rough water conditions to southeastern North Carolina. Beachgoers had to remain on high alert when in the surf.

The National Weather Service reported over 30 rip current water rescues over the weekend in Wrightsville Beach alone.

“This weekend we didn’t have a big swell by any means, you know, one or two feet, but we did have a fair amount of rip currents occurring from that swell coming in,” said Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Captain Sam Proffitt.

Violet Ward, a beachgoer, said she’s being extra careful after getting caught in a rip current before.

“It is scary because you don’t know when it’s going to stop or if you’re going to die or go farther and farther out, or if you’re ever gonna come back in,” said Ward.

Ocean rescue crews say it’s important to bring a flotation device out in the water, but if you don’t have one, it’s important to stay as calm as possible.

“The number one thing is don’t panic, again, relax, let the rip start to pull you and then you want to swim parallel, meaning you go left to right to the shore to get out of that rip current, and then you can swim in,” said Proffitt.

Though Hurricane Larry won’t be a direct threat to land in southeastern North Carolina, rough surf from the storm will impact area beaches later this week.

“They are predicting a four to seven-foot swell coming in, long interval, and that really is a recipe of having heavy rip current activity, not just here at Wrightsville Beach but probably pretty much along the entire North Carolina coast,” said Proffitt. “So, you know, this is not the week to venture out into the ocean. Maybe go into the pool or somewhere else, but just stay out of the water most of this week.”

Proffitt said that starting Tuesday, lifeguards begin their fall schedule, which means there will be fewer staff on patrol and less supervision. So, it’s extremely important to exercise caution if you get in the water.

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