How to survive if you get caught in a rip current
Red “no swimming” flags were posted on Saturday in Kill Devil Hills for dangerous, rough surf caused by a storm off the North Carolina coast, according to the town.
A 62-year-old man swimming in the rough surf disappeared at about 12:15 p.m., authorities say.
He was seen in the water near Fourth Street minutes later, but couldn’t get back to shore, according to Dare County Emergency Services and the Ocean Rescue Division of the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department.
The nearshore current was strong on Saturday, and moved the swimmer southward, according to a news release from the town. Lifeguards pulled the swimmer from the water moments later near Second Street. He was unresponsive, according to WTVR.
Lifeguards and Kill Devil Hills Fire Department crews started CPR and Dare County Emergency Services took the swimmer to the Outer Banks Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Gallop Funeral Service identified the man in an online obituary as Paul Dennis Bindulski, according to The Outer Banks Voice.
Bindulski is the fifth person to die in the Outer Banks this year while swimming in the ocean during rough surf or with a risk of strong currents, according to The Virginian Pilot. All of the deaths this year have been “men near 50 or older.”
A 4-year-old boy is the sixth victim. He died in April after being swept away by a wave while walking on the beach with his mother.
A tropical depression caused dangerous ocean conditions, including rough surf and strong rip currents Saturday.
The Ocean Rescue Division of the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department reminded people to obey posted signal flags on beaches.
▪ Red flags mean no swimming and dangerous conditions.
▪ Yellow flags mean strong currents and caution swimmers.
North Carolina has had at least 55 recorded rip current deaths since 1996, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. Lifesaving Association estimates that nearly 100 people die in rip currents each year in the United States.
Rip currents accounted for more than 80 percent of the 84,900 rescues that lifeguards made in 2016.
On June 13, 10 people were rescued in rip current-related incidents in two hours, according to Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue. Fifteen others were rescued by North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue in South Carolina, according to the rescue group.
If you get caught in a rip current, NOAA and the American Red Cross recommend that you:
▪ Remain calm to conserve energy, and don’t fight against the current.
▪ Think of it as a treadmill that cannot be turned off and that you need to step to the side of.
▪ Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle – away from the current – toward shore.
▪ Float or calmly tread water If you are unable to swim out of the rip current. When out of the current, swim toward shore.
▪ Wave your arms or yell for help to draw attention to yourself, if you are still unable to reach shore.