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Emerald Isle Rip Currents Information in NC – Beach Safety Warning Flags And Swimming

Our information on Emerald Isle NC rip currents, beach safety, and the warning flag system maintained by town officials is NOT official information from local officials. We are a private entity NOT associated or controlled by local emergency management officials in Carteret County. However, we hope that you will use the information in this article to further educate yourself on life-threatening rip currents that are common in this area of coastal NC. Please share this information on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter so that others can learn about the information in this article and about beach safety when visiting a NC beach. Additionally, please consider using the discussion form below to ask specific questions about rip currents or about Emerald Isle specific information.

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If you have ANY questions about the warning flag system, where there are protected beach swimming areas, or need further information, we recommend talking to a local town official BEFORE entering the water.
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Beach Safety And Rip Currents in Emerald Isle NC
  • If you are inexperienced in swimming in the ocean, we SERIOUSLY recommend only swimming in lifeguard protected areas after you have educated yourself on rip currents and have consulted with town officials about hazards posted for the day.
  • If you are swimming in an area not protected by lifeguards, you are responsible for knowing about warnings posted by town officials.
  • Life-threatening rip currents happen even when the ocean is not rough, on sunny days, and when winds are calm.
  • Even a strong experienced swimmer can be overcome by these currents in as little as calf deep water. Kids are HIGHLY vulnerable.
  • As a parent of a young child, we DO NOT recommend watching your children play in the surf from afar. Please stand at the waters edge to monitor your children and have some type of flotation device close.
  • All rip currents can be deadly. The best way to avoid them is knowing about the beach safety hazards for the day, being in a lifeguard protected area, close parental supervision, having flotation devices nearby, and knowing the survival skills if caught in any current.
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Survival Skills
  • Even the most advanced swimmers will be overcome in a rip current, and no matter how strong you are, you will be at the mercy of the water.
  • If you are swimming in the surf and suddenly feel a strong pull out towards the ocean and can not walk to shore or swim to shore, do not panic, relax, and let the water take you where it wants to take you. Conserve energy by NOT fighting against the current and yell for help.
  • Do not attempt to go over ocean waves. When you experience a wave, simply hold your breath and go under the wave. Continue to not fight against the current.
  • Do not be fearful that the rip current will take you out to sea. At most, the movement of water will subside a few hundred yards from shore. If you see that life guards are swimming to you, continue to tread water until he/she arrives and remain calm. If there is no response from life guards or you are in a non-protected area, once you feel the pull out towards the ocean subside, swim diagonal to the beach for 50-70 yards and then swim to shore.
  • If you suddenly feel a pull back out to the ocean again, relax and let the water take you where it wants you to go and repeat the steps.
  • Never, under any circumstances fight again a strong current. You will lose.
In the past three years along the beaches in Emerald Isle NC, several dozen water rescues involving strong life-threatening currents have taken place. And, they aren’t just from small children and inexperienced swimmers. Additionally, there have been far to many deaths associated with these conditions. We STRONGLY encourage you to learn about beach safety, the warning flag alert system posted daily by town officials, to consider swimming in protected areas, and knowing the survival skills if caught in these conditions. Please use the comment form below to ask questions and consider sharing this article on social media so that others can educate themselves.
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This section will be populated with particularly relevant discussions from the discussion form below.

Local officials released information showing the 2020 summer season saw less water rescues and drownings compared to previous years and attribute this to increased education on water safety and use of the flag system.

Michael Sharp

Native of Carteret County NC, Father to Makayla and Savannah. You can add me on Facebook. Interest include web development, encryption, and other technologies.

3 thoughts on “Emerald Isle Rip Currents Information in NC – Beach Safety Warning Flags And Swimming

  • August 3, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    In an effort to help stem the tide of drowning deaths related to rip currents, two residents have setup a Emerald Isle Community Site Facebook page where they are attempting to raise money and awareness about the need for more life jackets at area beaches for people that want to use them, especially for younger children and vulnerable adults who may not be accustomed to swimming in ocean waters.

    Both residents say that some life jackets are with lifeguards, but more is needed.

  • May 27, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    The information in this article is no joke. It is not just kids and those not used to swimming in the ocean, in 2019 we lost a very young physically strong Marine who panicked when caught in the sudden current. The key is not to panic, but this requires mental repetition to remember the survival skills. But, as pointed out the best advice is to know the conditions that day, look for red flags, and if they are present, enjoy the water from the sand. Please watch your kids!

    • June 9, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you for this information, as a mother with young children who worries about these types of things at the beach I appreciate this.


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