How to stay safe from rip currents as summer approaches

VB beachgoers
VB Red Flags
Posted at 10:58 PM, May 22, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Lifeguards in Virginia Beach are warning beachgoers about Saturday's rip current and warning them not to go too deep.

“The next thing is I look over and there’s my 7-year old there and a rip current comes through right under. His first instinct, he comes up and he doesn’t care that he can’t breathe right. He instantly jumped up and went to go look for me and I was there. He goes ‘mom I got hit. I’m okay.” Pamela Moore, a Virginia Beach tourist said.

Pamela Moore and her family were out on the beach enjoying the sun for several hours…until her son was swept under by a rip current. Tom Gill, the chief of the Virginia Lifesaving Service says the red flags are up to warn people to swim near shore to avoid a rip current.

"We’ve got red flags flying. This is the second day in a row," Tom Gill, the Chief of the Virginia Lifesaving Service, said.

Rip currents are channels of fast-moving water that form quickly and pull people away from shore. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, around 100 people die each year because of them.

"The first thing you need to do if you’re stuck in a rip current is relax. The problem with what we find when people panic in that rip current, even if they can swim, they try to fight that rip current and exhaust themselves and can end up drowning," Gill said.

Moore and her family took precautions when the water became rough.

"We went back at least fifteen feet and then about two minutes pasted and about two minutes passed and realized we needed another ten or fifteen feet," Moore said.

Gill says if you can float, you can survive a rip current, but if you find yourself stuck in a current on the beach, here’s what you should do.

"If you’re stuck out there and you got nothing more than an arm and a wave, and a mouth to scream, scream, go ahead and let us know," Gill said.

One woman says the water was a lot to handle.

"It was rough. It almost knocked my pants off," one beachgoer said.