Powerful rip current sweeps two to sea at popular SC beach — and then rescuers step in

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Two swimmers were swept out to sea on April 24 by a rip current before being rescued off the coast of Isle of Palms in South Carolina, officials said.

An off-duty National Weather Service employee spotted the rip current around 6 p.m. and reported it to the NWS office in Charleston.

The City of Isle of Palms Fire Department and Police Department, Charleston County EMS and Charleston County Rescue responded to the report of the rip current, according to WCIV.

The two swimmers were rescued and transported to a hospital for treatment, according to the NWS. Their conditions were not disclosed.

Rip currents are “powerful, narrow channels of fast-moving water,” according to the National Ocean Service.

This current was 10- to 20-feet wide and about 100 feet long, the NWS reported.

A swimmer can be pulled into a rip current from shore quickly, according to the NOS. The most important thing to do if you get caught in a current is to not panic.

“The best way to escape a rip current is by swimming parallel to the shore instead of towards it, since most rip currents are less than 80 feet wide,” the NOS said on its page about rip currents. “A swimmer can also let the current carry him or her out to sea until the force weakens, because rip currents stay close to shore and usually dissipate just beyond the line of breaking waves.”

Swimmers should continue to breathe, keep their heads above water and conserve energy by not fighting the force of the current, the NOS said.

Isle of Palms is about 127 miles southeast of Columbia.

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