Be careful at the Jersey Shore this holiday weekend
There are people who won't go into the ocean due to a fear of shark attacks. Shark attacks on humans are very rare in New Jersey. There are sharks out there and sometimes they come pretty close to the beach, but they're not looking for you.
You may get in the way and there could be a random accident but generally, sharks are not a big concern in the surf at the Jersey Shore.
The big concern this year and every summer is drowning. Rip currents are real. Many of us have never seen one, but if you talk to lifeguards and surfers who are out there all the time, they'll tell you a rip current is nothing to take lightly. We have already had two drownings at New Jersey beaches this summer and since the water is still pretty cold, the real rush into the water hasn't even begun yet.
The first tragedy happened on Memorial Day weekend when a 15-year-old drowned and five others had to be rescued at Sandy Hook. Also, an NYC firefighter lost his life saving his daughter in a rip current in Avon-by-the-Sea in early June.
This coming weekend will see a crush of people headed to our beaches as temperatures reach the upper 80s and the water temperature warms a bit. New Jersey has some of the most heavily guarded beaches up and down the East Coast, but they can't be everywhere.
In case you've never seen one, a rip current is a narrow, fast-moving channel of water that starts near the beach and extends offshore through the line of breaking waves. If you do get caught in a rip current, the best thing you can do is stay calm. It's not going to pull you underwater, it's just going to pull you away from shore. They say the best thing to do is to call and wave for help.
You'll want to stay calm and float. You don't want to swim back to shore against the rip current because it will just tire you out. You want to swim out of the rip, parallel to shore, along the beach and then follow breaking waves back to shore at an angle.
If you're a decent swimmer and in good enough shape, that works. If you're not a great swimmer and tend to panic, bring a boogie board out with you and listen to the lifeguards. The Atlantic Ocean off the Jersey Shore ain't no joke.
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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.
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