Hatteras & Ocracoke Islands, NC  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Hatteras & Ocracoke Area Features

Water Safety

Safety for Swimmers

  • Only swim where and when lifeguards are on duty
  • Never dive into unknown water or shallow breaking waves
  • Do not swim near fishing piers, jetties or wooden pilings
  • Rely on your swimming ability rather than a flotation device
  • If you are unable to swim out of a strong current, call or wave for help
  • Keep your feet in the sand, until the lifeguard’s in the stand!

Rip Currents

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They are the most common surf hazard leading to swimmer distress and potential rescue.

What does a rip current look like?

  • Foam, or objects, moving steadily seaward
  • A specific area of water that appears more turbulent than the surrounding water
  • A noticeable difference in water color
  • Gaps or flat sections in the waves breaking out in the water

Escaping a rip current

The most important thing to remember if you are caught in a rip current is DO NOT PANIC. You should attempt to swim parallel to the shore for about 25-50 yards or until out of the rip current, then swim at an angle toward the shore. Many people try to swim against a rip current, but this is DANGEROUS. If in danger, wave for help, relax and tread water!

How do I help someone else?

Don’t become a victim while trying to help someone else! Many people have died in efforts to rescue rip current victims.

  • Get help from a lifeguard
  • If a lifeguard is not present, yell instructions on how to escape
  • If possible, throw the rip current victim something that floats
  • Call 9-1-1 for further assistance
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