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Woman's Drowning Death Prompts Launch Of Riptide Awareness Program

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Long Island authorities are launching a water safety program after a swimmer drowned near Fire Island last week.

Suffolk County police say the body of Barbara Langbecker was discovered Sunday in the water near Seaview Marina. Authorities believe the 67-year-old Upper East Side resident went swimming during last weekend's storm and drowned in the rip current that came with it.

Hempstead Town Councilmember Anthony D'Esposito gave CBS2's Tara Jakeway a preview of the Riptide Awareness Program launching Friday at Hempstead Town beaches, a response to Langbecker's death.

"This is just an opportunity to remind those, not only the residents, we have nearly 800,000 residents here in the town of Hempstead that use our beaches, but there's a lot of visitors, too," he said..

Web Extra: Long Island Officials Unveil Rip Current Safety Program --


Their safety program slogan is "Beware the grip of the rip."

A rip current is hard to predict, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are some warning signs.

Rip current indicators include:

  • High surf conditions
  • An area of churning, choppy water
  • An area of noticeably different water color
  • A line of foam or seaweed moving steadily out to sea
  • A break in the incoming wave pattern
In July 2019, Long Island authorities launched a water safety program after a swimmer drowned near Fire Island. (Credit: CBS2)

Riptide Awareness brochures can now be found at all the town beaches. Inside are tips about what to do if residents find themselves in a rip current.

The U.S. Lifesaving Association says you shouldn't fight the current. Instead, you should swim parallel to shore and swim back to land at an angle.

If you can't swim out of it, tread water and remain calm until help arrives.

They caution to never swim at a beach without lifeguards.

Even if water looks calm, a rip current can happen at any beach where the waves crash right on the shore.

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