High rip current risks at Emerald Isle beach

EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WITN) – Beachgoers faced a high rip current risk on Friday at Emerald Isle, where red flags were flying, signaling dangerous conditions.

“We are flying red flags today,” said Mackenzie Taylor, lifeguard supervisor for Emerald Isle. “The surf is large, and the longshore current is very strong. Rip currents are definitely present.”

Emerald Isle uses a flag system to indicate water conditions: a single yellow flag means moderate hazard, red signifies high hazard, two red flags mean no swimming allowed, and a purple flag indicates danger from marine life.

Caylie Sweet, a visitor, expressed her concern, saying, “I told my mom they have red flags, and I don’t know what to do.”

Despite the warnings, Karin Avallone, another beachgoer, was determined to enjoy the day with her mom. “We don’t go to the beach often because of health issues. The rip current wasn’t going to stop us,” she said.

Lifeguards emphasized the importance of recognizing and understanding rip currents. “The water will be a deeper color with fewer waves breaking,” Taylor explained. “Knowing how to spot a rip current can help you avoid one.”

Taylor advised swimmers to stay calm if caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore, and signal for help. Officials recommend checking flag colors and water conditions before heading to the beach.