QR Codes Distributed at Shore to Spread Rip Current Info
Rip currents are a very real and very deadly threat to swimmers along the Jersey Shore and local Girl Scout troops are doing their part to inform people about the hazards.
Through a partnership with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and The Jersey Shore Partnership Foundation, the Girl Scouts will promote rip current awareness by posting over 2,500 QR Codes along the shore in Ocean, Monmouth, Cape May, and Atlantic County.
The project received an official press conference from the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium on Monday in Asbury Park. Consortium Director of Education, Claire Antonuccis says first the girls learned about the dangers of rip tides for themselves.
"We did education programs for the girls, and then the girls went out into their communities and educated the public. They did presentations, there's even a video you can see on Youtube, and even two sandcastles were entered in local contests. One of which won in Avon."
The core of the project revolves around spreading information about the dangers of rip currents. NOAA Weather Service Meteorologist Walter Drag notes this summer alone, five young swimmers drowned after rip currents are believed to have swallowed them under water. He notes all of the fatalities occurred when the beaches were unguarded, with swimmers not paying deference to the rip currents danger.
"We need to be talking about rip currents in a family setting at the dinner table."
Dr. Jon Miller, Associate Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology and Coastal Processes Specialist at the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium says while experts like himself or Walter Drag are able to speak about rip currents, it's a message that needs to be spread on a wider scale.
"It's the girls who have the ability to spread the information amongst their friends, amongst their teachers, and amongst their parents."
Thanks to funding from JCP&L and TD Bank, various Scout troops will take inventory of posted rip current signs provided to town by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and place stickers for QR codes on each one.
When the pixilated barcode is scanned with a corresponding smart phone, it will connect users to rip current pages of the NJSGC's website, which will include a video on how to recognize and escape from rip currents.
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Director of Outdoor Program and Facility Pat Kurz says the young ladies already made big strides in getting the message out there.
"As of Friday there were 39 out of 46 beaches totally covered in the QR tags and they are in English and Spanish."
So far all Monmouth County beaches, eleven of the fifteen Ocean County Beaches, all Atlantic County, and four of nine Cape May County beaches with rip current signs have been inventoried and tagged.
The girls also made visits to Steven's institute of Technology where they met with coastal experts and participated in activities to learn about rip current awareness.