Rip current warning: 60 rescues in 10 days in Belmar alone

BELMAR, New Jersey (WABC) -- There has been a big increase in the number of swimmers in distress at the Jersey Shore recently, requiring rescues by lifeguards.

The reason is dangerous rip currents, and there have been 60 rescues at Belmar Beach this month alone.

On hot summer days, the ocean is so enticing. But just underneath the surface is a silent and dangerous killer of which people must be aware. In the last 10 days, Belmar lifeguards have saved dozens of people from rip currents, and officials are urging swimmers to be alert.

Often lost among the inviting sand and calming blue waves is a warning that far too many people fail to heed. And that has been keeping lifeguards busy.

"We had warm water, so of course the weather and the water bring people down," Belmar assistant lifeguard supervisor Corrina Weinkofsky said. "And we did have a number of places where we had some bad rip currents, mostly around the jetty area."

Those with little ones say they're especially careful, even along the shoreline.

"We keep a close watch on her, because of the rip current," beachgoer Bob Wegner said. "And also, she's fearless. She would run right in the water if we didn't watch her."

Meanwhile, others who like to venture further out admit they've felt a stronger undertow lately.

"When I went out swimming, you could feel it pulling you right out," beachgoer Shari Martini said.

With nearly 50 lifeguards posted between 22 blocks of beach in Belmar, families are still being encouraged stay alert. And if you get caught in a rip current, don't panic. Let it pull you out, then swim parallel to the shore until help can get to you.

"Especially if you're a first time visitor, always check with the lifeguards," Weinkofsky said. "We have our tides posted on the boards, and check to see if there are red flags."

Three people have died along the Jersey shore this summer because of rip currents, so lifeguards warn you can never be too careful.
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