Experts warn against jumping into ocean to save swimmers

Posted: Updated:
SEA BRIGHT -

One teen has been killed and two others are presumed dead after drowning in the ocean in New Jersey this week. Several others remain hospitalized after nearly drowning.

In almost all of these incidents friends and good Samaritans rushed into the water to try to save the person in distress.

But lifeguard experts say that jumping into the water to save a loved one may not be the best way to handle these types of emergencies.

“Call 911. Just yelling for help and looking up the beach does not make that call,” says Sea Bright Ocean Rescue Capt. Mike Hudson. “It’s the worst feeling to know you don’t have help coming when you’re alone.”

Hudson says that 80 percent of the 76 saves his lifeguards made last summer were from rip currents. He says that he has good reason for telling beachgoers not to jump into the water before getting a professional.

“Bystanders are the ones that don’t make it out of the water,” he says. “The victim ultimately, in most cases, makes it out of the water and the bystander ends up drowning.”

He says that if you are pulled out into the water with a friend, stay together and swim parallel to the shore.

“As you’re swimming parallel you want to start to kind of angle yourself in on a diagonal angle where there are waves breaking,” he says. “It’s counterintuitive to go to that area, but there’s not any rip current there.”

Hudson says that swimmers can avoid getting caught in a rip current by only swimming when lifeguards are on duty.

In most of the emergencies that happened this week, lifeguards were not present. Experts say that once lifeguards leave for the day, swimmers should get out of the water.

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