Stay out of the water: rip currents spur rare beach hazard warnings in northeast Ohio

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GRAND RIVER, Ohio -  The U.S. Coast Guard is ready and watching the weather closely.

It's all because the National Weather Service issued a rare, widespread "Beach Hazard Statement" Tuesday.  The warning is effective until Wednesday night and warns of possible “rip currents” across the entire north coast from Lorain County, across Ohio to Northern Erie County, PA and into New York State.

According to the NWS, a combination of large waves and rip currents will create “life-threatening conditions even for good swimmers” and people are advised to “stay out of the water” until the threat has passed.

A small craft advisory is also in effect until 10 p.m. Wednesday with west winds building from 15 to 25 knots and waves of 3 to 6 feet.

Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Harry Ramsey with the USCG in Fairport Harbor says rip currents can be difficult to detect.

Look for a change in the water color, waves breaking in one area but not another and debris being pulled away from the shoreline.

If you get caught in a rip current he says, “remain calm until it subsides and then swim at an angle back to shore.”

Courtesy National Weather Service

Courtesy National Weather Service

And if you see someone caught in one, he says, “Don’t try to go in after them - call 911 and try to throw them something that floats.”

In recent years people have lost their lives trying to save others.

The Coast Guard says, it’s up to all of us to be responsible, have the proper safety gear and heed the warnings.

“We have limitations on our boats and our crew,” said Ramsey BM2, USCG, “So be mindful if the Coast Guards not gonna go out and risk it you shouldn't either.”