Ocean City Today

OC lifeguards no longer on patrol

Recorded 2,700 rescues since Memorial Day, with 58 coming last Saturday
By Kara Hallissey | Sep 28, 2017

(Sept. 29, 2017) The 2017 season ended on Sunday with a busy weekend for Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguards, who made 58 rescues on Saturday, and saved nearly 2,700 people from the Atlantic Ocean since Memorial Day weekend.

“This time of year is especially dangerous, because the water temperature hovers around 70 degrees and the air temperature makes it inviting to go in the water,” Ocean City Beach Patrol Lt. Ward Kovacs said. “The season is also prone to tropical storm activity, which leads to rip currents.”

Rip currents form when huge volumes of water and waves pile up near the shoreline.

An exit point for the water forms a narrow stream that moves rapidly away from the shore. Because rip currents change randomly, it’s hard to know when they will appear in the surf.

“There are dangers with the heavier surf and rip currents for people who don’t intend to be swimmers,” Kovacs said. “People wading in the water up to their waist, if they get knocked over by a wave, they could quickly get pulled out to water over their head due to the current and drown when they didn’t intend to be in water that deep.”

If people find themselves in a rip current, swimmers should follow the “RIP” rule: Relax, I need help, and swim Parallel.

“Keep your feet in the sand, until the lifeguards are on the stand,” Kovacs said. “If you don’t go out there, you won’t get into trouble.”

Kovacs said the Ocean City Beach Patrol guards were unusually busy making rescues between Labor Day and Sunfest Sunday, because of the recent tropical activity and storms.

On Saturday, lifeguards made 58 rescues with only 28 stands lining the beach, which was an average of two rescues per guard, he said.

“Every day the sun was out, we were constantly making rescues,” Kovacs said. “I noticed a lot more people in town [this month] and I have never been more proud of how our guards handled that rescue activity.”

The Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguards will not return to their stands until Memorial Day weekend, May 26, 2018.

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