On Thursday, July 25th, Lt. Stephen Curry was vacationing with his family at Nags Head in the Outer Banks. While having a relaxing morning on the beach, Curry heard a cry of help from a young boy that was struggling in the ocean. Curry is a member of the Roanoke Fire-EMS Swift Water Rescue Team and he realized that the boy was in trouble.
His training kicked in and he wasted no time entering the water while his wife called 911. Curry had been trained in how to handle rip currents, but he quickly realized that both he and the boy were in serious danger. Rip currents tire you out and take you farther from shore. By the time he reached the young boy both of them were exhausted and the water was well over their heads and the waves were still crashing on them. Curry remained calm and helped to calm the 10 year old boy down and they both eventually reached the shore where they were met by local fire-ems personnel.
This young man was swimming alone and it was the first time he was in the ocean without his life vest. We wanted to share this story to remind parents and caregivers of the following:
- Never swim alone. Be aware of tide changes & rip currents. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow. These potential hazards can make swimming in open water far more challenging than swimming in a pool.
- Children should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) appropriate for their age, weight and the water activity. For kids younger than 5, choose a PFD with head support and a strap between the legs.
- If you do happen to be caught in a rip current, stay calm. It won’t pull you under – it’ll just pull you away from shore. If you try to fight the rip current and swim against it, you’ll just get worn out. Instead – float!
- If you can, wave and yell to get the attention of lifeguards and people on shore to let them know you need help. If you’re a good swimmer, swim parallel to shore until you’ve cleared the pull of the rip current. Swim with the waves, allowing them to push you to shore.
Lt. Curry relied on his training that day and still he realizes he could have drowned. It’s very important for every family to heed the warnings concerning swimming in the ocean. Curry doesn’t want to be hailed as a hero – he’s just happy that he was in the right place at the right time and that the boy is safe and sound.