Working to keep beach goers safe along the Crystal Coast

ATLANTIC BEACH, NC (WITN) Police officers in Atlantic Beach are focused on keeping people safe and educating them before they get in the water and that means they are not only paying attention to those in the water, but they are also making sure visitors see that warning flags are at every beach access.

Red flags, meaning a high risk of dangerous rip currents, were flying at the coast Thursday.

Atlantic Beach Police Chief Jeff Harvey says safety is on the top of his mind as he and several other members of his department patrol the beach.

His concern, and an uptick in patrols down the beach strand, come after two people lost their lives at Atlantc Beach after getting caught in a rip current.

Harvey says, "I never want to see it again, it's never something you want to see and it's disheartening because it could have been prevented if people were aware and that's not putting anything on the victims whatsoever but people need to be aware of their surroundings they are going out into a big ocean."

The chief says that the flags that fly daily at his and other Crystal Coast beaches are the best way to maintain that awareness.

Harvey says, "Today is a red flag day and there have been several people out there that we've stopped and just reminded them to be cautious and hopefully we won't have anymore incidents like this, but we're going to try to educate the public as they come down here and keep them safe."

Five people total have died this season at Crystal Coast beaches and life guards are not set to take up their posts until next weekend.

Right now Chief Harvey says his goal is to have two sets of patrols out on the beaches all day long and he says at the very least they will always have one officer out.

Many of the beaches are still without lifeguards until Memorial Day. First responders say if you are caught in a rip current the most important thing you can do is stay calm and signal for help.