NJ beach patrol issue rip current warnings

June 16, 2012 4:53:00 AM PDT
With lots of people are heading to the shore to enjoy the weather, lifeguards want everyone headed into the ocean to be aware of dangerous rip currents.

The currents can pull you into the ocean in a matter of seconds, and they could be to blame for the drowning of a 10-year-old boy last weekend.

Ohio lifeguard Dave Erwin was thinking about losing his life when he got caught in a rip current in Myrtle Beach years ago.

"First, I told myself not to panic, figure out where the water wanted to take me, and just swam in with it," said Dave.

Dave was lucky, but not everyone caught in a rip current survives.

This past Sunday, 10 year-old Khatin Devine, of North Carolina, drowned in a rip current off Martin Luther King Boulevard where his family had been swimming after lifeguard went off-duty.

And on Thursday, two swimmers were plucked out of the water in Island Beach State Park in Ocean County; one in rough water and another caught in a rip current.

"We think rip tides all the time especially for little kids," said Jennifer Latch. "He won't go in below his knees. I won't let him out below his knees because I don't want him swept away."

The Chief of the Atlantic City Beach patrol says if you're caught in a rip current don't fight it. Go with it, and then swim parallel to the shore until you can get back in. Panicking will only hurt you.

"If you're being pulled out there and you start to panic, take a little water and put your hands up to wave. You are like a cylinder going straight to the bottom. That is where you go under, you go down. Lay back and paddle out of it if you can or try to stay afloat," said Chief Rod Aluise.

"I have never gotten caught, but I am very aware that it is a big danger," Todd Schild.

The experts say they can't stress enough, particularly when the rip currents are the strongest, that you should never ever go swimming when there are no lifeguards.