Lifeguards warn of rip currents at the Jersey shore

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (WPVI) -- It looked like a picture-perfect beach day in Atlantic City Tuesday, but that makes the lifeguards' jobs that much harder.

With the risk for rip currents going up, they have a big job over the next few days.

With bright sun and big ocean swells, the lifeguards were busy, keeping swimmers like Anastasia Wetzel of Shamokin, Pa. safe.

Her aunt, Katlyn Krieger, explained, "They were blowing and blowing the whistle at her. We started out here and she got all the way down by the rocks."

Anastasia says she now knows:

"You're supposed to look at them when they blow the whistle and then come in if it's really bad."

The concern? Rip currents.

Lifeguards watch over the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 10, 2018.

We caught up with Atlantic City Beach Patrol Chief Steve Downey on the sand at South Carolina Avenue, one of the busiest beaches with some of the biggest rescue counts.

"Last week alone we had 400 rescues here in Atlantic City. We had a lot of really bad rescues after-hours," said Downey.

And with Tropical Storm Chris heading up the coast, Downey and his lifeguards are watching closely. They want beachgoers to only swim where a lifeguard is on duty, and they want people to know what to do if they get caught in a rip current.

"Do not panic," Downey emphasized. "First and foremost. If we're on duty, we see you. We're on our way."

What should you do? Officials say go with the tide.

"The rule of thumb is, swim sideways to swim out of it. Don't ever try to swim against it," said Downey.

Another big don't: swimming near rocks and piers. Last week officials say a family had to be rescued at night as they were swimming at night under a pier near South Carolina Avenue.

Downey also urges parents to watch their children closely, and asks all swimmers to listen to the lifeguards.


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