The Atlantic Ocean, right in front of the Flying Catnap by the Sea, is a wonderful source of fun and exercise because it’s great for swimming. It’s great for fishing, too. And it’s beautiful to look at.
Wonderful as the ocean is, it MUST be respected at all times. In addition to all of the usual water safety issues – including “never swim alone” and the ocean’s surf’s ability to send someone (especially the younger set) tumbling – rip currents can form that are very dangerous.
How dangerous? The Carteret Co News-Times reports that two teen swimmers were caught in a rip current in Emerald Isle (on Bogue Banks and just 11 miles from the Catnap) and that one of them died from drowning as a result. The other teen was rescued by Daniel Player of Emerald Isle. The reports are unclear as to who brought the teenager to shore, whether it was Mr. Player himself – he is a surfer – or Emerald Isle Fire Department lifeguards. This young fellow’s situation was also very serious as it included cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by the first responders and an airlift to the Vidant Medical Center, in Greenville. He was listed in critical condition at the last report available.
Two other swimmers were also rescued on Saturday according to Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush.
So what should YOU DO?
First, know how to recognize a rip current when you see one: a calm/flat area on the water where the waves are breaking immediately on either side. This is probably a deeper channel where the water is moving away from the beach at a pretty good clip. The wave brings the water in, it flows out through the channel forming a rip current. If you see something like this, point it out to everyone and stay clear of it!
Second, know how to respond if you get caught in a rip current: swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current and then swim to shore. NEVER try to beat the current by swimming directly back to shore because this will exhaust you and the speed of the current is almost certain to be greater than the speed you can swim.
Third, know where you are on the beach: The Flying Catnap by the Sea is located between Mileposts 8 and 8.5. That, or “just East of the Clamdigger,” or “497 Salter Path Road” is the information that the rescue people will need if you need them.
Fourth, IF you need help, call for it – that is to say “DIAL 911” – immediately! Pine Knoll Shores has police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel always on duty. The Coast Guard has a lot of assets that can be brought in quickly if needed, including rapid response boats from Station Fort Macon, Coast Guard cutters, and helicopters from Air Station Elizabeth City. They can be the difference between a minor scare and a personal tragedy so call for their help if needed.
Fifth, always remember that safety is YOUR responsibility because there is no lifeguard service at the Catnap. There is no lifeguard on the beach and there is no lifeguard at the pool.