Officials caution of rip current risks along Crystal Coast

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All eyes are on the tropics as Hurricane Dorian hits the Bahamas.

Here at home, the holiday weekend brings lots of visitors to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast.

While the sun is hot, and the sand is soft, the waves this weekend are rough.

“This morning we changed to red flags so we might have a little bit more rescue activity,” said Ben Jackson, Lifeguard Coordinator for Emerald Isle Fire Department.

A red flag means high caution, and it’s recommended that no one enter the water.

Flags are issued by NOAA, the National Weather Service and Captains at each beach fire station.

“I think people want to come and enjoy themselves and have fun, and they don’t really think about how dangerous it could actually be,” said Jackson.

Sunday, beach goers in Emerald Isle have seen the lifeguards in action rescuing swimmers from rip currents.

“A lot of them, they just think, ‘oh it’s not as bad as you see on T.V.’ So, they get stuck out there and they they realize I’m screwed and then they don’t know how to get out of them,” said James Tandy, a Jacksonville native.

If you’re caught in a rip current Jackson says you should remain calm, and try to swim parallel with the shore until you can swim back with the waves to the beach.

Officials in Emerald Isle are saying overall, people should take it easy, especially with the threat of Dorian possibly coming our way in the coming days.

“Know your own limits, don’t go pushing any boundaries because you want to have fun.  Just stay safe and try to enjoy time with your family,” said Jackson.

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