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.
Rip currents are the leading surf hazard, claiming more than 100 lives per year nationally. For that reason, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Park Service have teamed up to sponsor Rip Current Awareness Week, which runs all this week, with the theme "Break the Grip of the RipÂ®."
Park rangers have placed educational posters, captioned "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 Jay Lippert, the parkâs chief ranger, lifeguards rescued 62 swimmers last summer at the park's three lifeguarded beaches. But much of the Fire Island shoreline is âswim at your own riskâ and in need of guidance on possible dangers.
"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," says 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."
For more on NOAAâs program and an image of the poster you can reproduce locally, go to these two NOAA pages: