Lifeguards prepare for holiday weekend & storm surge

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Fourth of July is already one of the busiest days at the beach, but the combination of large crowds and a storm surge from Tropical Storm Arthur have lifeguards making preparations.

"We've started training and we've changed that to prepare for this weekend. We usually do land workouts this early in the year, but now we have gone to the water workouts," explained Old Orchard Beach Lifeguard Captain, Keith Willett. "We'll be in the water everyday up until the storm approaches and Fourth of July."

While rain and wind from the storm are expected to keep people away from the beach on Friday, the storm will be roaring up the East Coast and should clear out before the end of the weekend, but the waves it creates will still be impacting the coast long after the weather changes increasing the potential for strong riptide currents on beaches throughout the Gulf of Maine.

"Even though there is not a lot of surf right now, there are a couple of riptides we can see right now that are very evident," said Willett as he gestured towards a section of beach. "Over here we have white, bubbly water is a good tell-tale sign of a riptide."

He says it is important for people to stay calm and know what to do in case they are caught in one of these currents.

"Don't swim back into it," he advised. "Either let it take you out to sea and it will eventually release you, or swim to the sides of the riptide."

He urges beachgoers to ask lifeguards on duty about ocean conditions and heed their warnings.

"The ocean is very powerful," said Willett. "At any given time, something could change and go wrong."


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