Wrightsville Beach performed over 200 rescues for 2008 summer season. Beachgoers must be aware of the potential for dangerous rip currents. Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves. The United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation’s beaches exceeds 100. Lifeguards protecting the ocean beaches of the U.S. rescue 60,000 swimmers annually, and rip currents account for over 80% of these rescues.
The National Weather Service issues a Surf Zone Forecast that includes the rip current risk for area beaches. The Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Squad flies colored signal flags from each lifeguard stand indicating the water conditions observed in the area.
Green Flag=Low hazard. Conditions are calm. Normal care and caution should be exercised.
Yellow Flag=Moderate hazard. Weak swimmers are discouraged from entering the water. For others,
enhanced care and caution should be exercised.
Red Flag=High hazard. Rough conditions such as strong surf and/or
currents are present. All swimmers are discouraged from entering the
water. Those entering the water should take great care. Wind and/or wave
conditions are expected to support the development of very strong rip
currents. This category implies that water conditions are life
threatening to all people who enter the surf. There may be a high number
of rescues on red flag days.