VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Red flags greeted beachgoers up and down the Oceanfront this weekend as big waves and strong rip currents pop up as Hurricane Henri moves up the coast.
Swimmers told 10 On Your Side Saturday they experienced bigger waves with more of a current pulling at them while taking a dip near 17th Street in Virginia Beach.
Tom Gill from Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services says it’s extremely important for visitors to keep an eye out for the flags about water conditions and stay nearby lifeguard stands the next few days.
“Hurricane Henri is going by the coast, and not causing a big of problem here other than we’re seeing some really good sized surf from it,” he said. “The bigger the surf, the more intensity we’re going to have rip currents along the beach.”
With beaches busy this weekend, Gill says it’s always a good time to remind people of how to stay safe if they get stuck in a rip current.
For starters, don’t panic – stay calm and float.
“If you are stuck in a rip current and you are a strong enough swimmer, just start swimming laterally outside of that rip current, maybe at an angle back towards the shore, so that you’re not fighting that rip current,” he said. “You’re not going to win that battle. Don’t fight it.”
Lifeguards rescued only one or two swimmers Saturday.
Still, swimmers like Cassandra Yoder recommend not letting kids go into the water alone and only going waist-deep.
“Well, just be careful and if you have kids with you,” she said. “Definitely have to like be with the kids or don’t let them go in. Yeah, just be careful.”
Those red flags may stick around for the next couple of days even after the hurricane passes by Hampton Roads.
Gill says for swimmers to be extra careful before heading in the water the next few days.