Parks officials warn of rip currents at area beaches

ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCIV) -- For those planning to head to the beach this weekend, officials at the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission are warning people about rip currents.Over the past few days, several rip currents have formed off the Isle of Palms, leading to a number of water rescues and one drowning.Officials say everyone at the beach should pay attention to the rip current risk before heading into the water for a swim. Each lifeguard stand has flags that warn of certain risks.The parks commission employs nearly 60 lifeguards at the county beach parks and the Folly Fishing Pier.Rip currents are channels of water that flow out into the ocean. They can be very strong and move very fast - up to 8 miles an hour. Rips pull people away from shore, but will not pull a person under. They may be narrow, or up to over 100 yards wide.An estimated 80 percent of all surf rescues are due to rip currents, parks officials said.What Does a Rip Current Look Like?{} Churning, choppy water{} Different water color{} Foam or seaweed moving seaward{} Break in the wave pattern{}What To Do If You Get Caught In a Rip Current:{} Don't panic Do not try to swim against the current Swim along the shoreline to get out of the rip Swim back to the shore diagonally (away from the rip) Wave for help if you are in troubleOther beach safety tips: Learn to swim or stay out of the water Swim with a buddy and near a lifeguard Enter water feet first Watch your children Always obey the posted signs and flags on the beach and at the lifeguard stands Use sunscreen and drink water