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Contact: Public Affairs Office, 252-473-2111
Cape Hatteras National Seashore wishes to remind the public of the dangers that rip currents pose to visitors along the Seashore. Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore that quickly pull swimmers out to sea, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rip currents account for more than 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards. Sadly, this summer, three swimming-related fatalities have occurred off Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches.
In an area of the Seashore known as Cape Point, two major ocean currents converge, making it a very popular location for surf fishing and shelling. The majority of the summer, a sandbar located off Cape Point has been above water, and visitors have enjoyed venturing out to it. Recently, as currents and tides have increased, Hatteras Island Ocean Rescue has assisted numerous people who were in distress after attempting to reach the sandbar. The speed of the currents and water depths are often too great for many people to navigate.
The best way to stay safe in ocean water off the Seashore is to recognize the danger of rip currents. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, do not fight it. Swim parallel to the shore and swim back to land at an angle. The National Weather Service has an extremely helpful web page detailing how to avoid getting caught in a rip current at http://www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.