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Hempstead Officials Issue Reminder About Danger Of Rip Currents

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The Town of Hempstead celebrates the fact that in the past 86 years, there has not been a single drowning at its beaches while lifeguards are on duty.

Officials want to keep it that way, issuing a reminder about the danger of rip currents.

A quintessential summer day at Point Lookout Beach on Long Island, but then out of nowhere, you hear the whistle blow and witness lifeguards racing into action.

On the horizon, swimmers in distress.

This was all part of a simulation Wednesday showing what could happen if you get caught in a rip current.

"You could just be laying on your back on a floatation device. Next thing you know, you're a quarter mile from shore," Hempstead chief ocean lifeguard Mike Romano said.

He says rip currents form every day. Lifeguards constantly scout the surf to locate them. You can, too.

Look for places where waves aren't breaking and sand is being sucked out.

If lifeguards do spot one...

"We'll completely move the area, so we swim between the green flags," Romano told CBS2's Vanessa Murodck.

Red flags are out of bounds.

With the approach of peak hurricane season, the Town of Hempstead is ramping up efforts to educate the public. Beachgoers will receive a flier with the reminder rip currents can kill.

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin says he's experienced getting caught up.

"You're swimming and you're being pulled out into the ocean. It is an incredibly dangerous and shocking moment," he said.

If you get caught up in one, don't panic and swim parallel to shore.

"Once you get out of that rip, swim diagonally to shore," Romano said.

There are more basic beach guidelines to keep you safely enjoying the water.

"If you're with children, stay off your phones," said Hempstead aquatic director Justine Anderson.

"Never swim alone. Never swim at nighttime. Always swim when lifeguards are working," Romano said.

According to the National Weather Service, you are five times more likely to drown when a lifeguard isn't on duty.

Rip currents account for about 80% of rescues. Lifeguards at Point Lookout have made over 200 saves already this year.

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