EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Another holiday weekend is just days away but the Crystal Coast is no stranger to preparing for crowds early.
William Matthias, Emerald Isle’s Ocean Rescue director, said they are increasing lifeguard staffing for the Fourth of July weekend. Instead of having one guard in the tower, two sets of eyes will be on the water. They are also increasing the hours of lifeguards until about 7:30 p.m.
Matthias said the most important thing to do when entering the beach is to pay attention to the flags the lifeguards put out. He said a recent change to guidance by the United States Lifesaving Association is if it’s red, no swimming is allowed even for a strong swimmer.
Matthias also said his team has already had water rescues this year from rip currents. According to The National Weather Service, approximately 58 fatalities have occurred from rip currents in 2021.
To prevent fatal accidents from rip currents, Matthias said if you find yourself caught in one, do not panic, swim parallel to the current if you feel you are able to, if not, just float.
He also said other things to note while swimming this weekend are to swim away from fishermen and man-made objects like piers. Do not swim with jewelry as it can look like a lure for marine life.