Dangerous rip currents off the Carolina coast are to blame for the deaths of seven people over the 4th of July holiday. That number is double the average number of rip current deaths in a year. Community leaders are calling the tragedies a wake-up call and are trying to find ways to prevent future drownings.
Putting signs and red flags up at various beach access points is one of several ideas, says Anthony Marzano, the director of emergency services in Brunswick County, where four of the deaths took place.
"For those in a surf environment who don't know how to recognize those hazards, I think it's important we focus on outreach, prevention, and education," Marzano says. "There might be an arguments to be made that lifeguards would be helpful. I think they would be, but we still can have fatalities on guarded beaches."
To escape a rip current, swimmers should remain calm and swim parallel to the shore instead of back towards the beach.