With rescue crews on standby, officials urge caution along the coast

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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — As Hurricane Dorian makes its way up the East Coast, state officials are asking Rhode Islanders to use common sense if they plan to be near the ocean this weekend.

Marine forecasts predict Dorian will produce 2-4 foot surf by Saturday morning, increasing to 3-5 feet throughout the day. South-facing beaches are also expected to experience the strongest rip currents, though it is still a concern at all beaches statewide.

Narragansett Fire Chief Scott Partington is reminding both surfers and wave-watchers alike to make smart decisions while near the water.

Partington said the Narragansett Fire Department has placed barriers in hazardous shoreline areas including Hazard and Newton Avenues and the Bass Rock area.

There is also a 31-foot rescue boat stationed in the port of Galilee and trained rescue-swimmers on hand in case of a water rescue.

But Partington said he hopes they do not have to deploy these resources as Dorian moves through. He urged everyone to not wander too far out onto the rocks or jetties and for onlookers to remain a safe distance away from crashing waves.

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“Waves possess enormous force and can easily sweep a person into the water from what seems to be a safe viewing area,” he explained. “Do not put you, other bystanders, nor first responders in harm’s way by making poor decisions.”

He also reminded surfers that there are no lifeguards on duty and inexperienced surfers should stay out of the water.

Surfers who do plan to take advantage of the waves should know their limits and look after one another.

Rhode Island Environmental Management (RIEMA) Director Marc Pappas is hoping no one goes near the water until after the storm passes through.

“It looks really neat to see nature in its fury, but it’s dangerous,” Pappas said. “Stay away from the water, stay away from that surf until things calm down and the thing is well north of us.”

Pappas said RIEMA is actively monitoring the storm and prepared to respond if necessary.

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