Monday, Jun 8, 2009
Now that warmer air and ocean water temperatures are tempting people into the surf, a rip current safety message greets beach-goers at Fire Island National Seashore. Park rangers placed educational posters, "Rip Currents: Break the Grip of the Rip," at strategic locations on Fire Island and at ferry terminals that provide access to the island. On-duty at all hours, and at sites where there are no lifeguarded beaches, the informative poster provides valuable guidance on how to identify a rip current and what to do if a person is caught in a rip current.
According to Chief Ranger Jay Lippert, Fire Island National Seashore lifeguards rescued 62 swimmers last summer at the park's three lifeguarded beaches. However, much of the shoreline along Fire Island is "Swim at Your Own Risk." "We have installed these posters to inform and protect people who aren't swimming at a protected beach, or who go into the water after hours," stated Lippert. "Rip currents are the primary cause of distress for swimmers on Fire Island. About 85% of the Seashore's 'saves' last year were rip-current related."
Rip currents are the leading surf hazard, claiming more than 100 lives per year nationally. For that reason, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NPS have teamed up to sponsor Rip Current Awareness Week, June 7-13, with the theme "Break the Grip of the RipÂ®."