NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Labor Day weekend is typically the beach season finale, but those heading for the coast should be wary about going in the water.
Hurricane Franklin may be well offshore, but it’s churning up the Atlantic and creating dangerous conditions at ocean-facing beaches, including large waves and strong rip currents.
An 80-year-old man was rescued Wednesday night by a good Samaritan after he got caught in a rip current at Roger Wheeler State Beach.
“A civilian with a boogie board went out to assist, and prior to our arrival, the civilian was able to assist and get the individual out of the water,” Narragansett Fire Captain Joe Conroy told 12 News on Thursday.
The man is now said to be doing well, according to Narragansett police.
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Another reason to be careful over the holiday weekend is that lifeguards may not be on duty. The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) says it will only have about half their lifeguard staff at beaches as college students head back to campus.
But even if lifeguards are present, Conroy said beachgoers can’t let their guard down. He advises anyone who’s not a strong swimmer to stay out of the water.
Conroy also warned beachgoers to be cautious not only in the water, but also on jetties. People often go out on the rocks to watch the waves, but are unaware of how quickly things can take a turn for the worse.
“When it gets wet, I mean, it’s literally like grease,” Conroy added.
A few weeks ago, Conroy happened upon a mother and two children at Hazard Rock.
“The kids were stuck on the rocks right at the water’s edge and they couldn’t climb back up, so I went up, grabbed the rope and just pulled them up real quick,” he recalled. “It was a real quick, easy thing, but it could’ve been a bad outcome.”
The R.I. Department of Health on Thursday recommended that two beaches close to swimming due to high bacteria counts in the water: Peabody’s Beach in Middletown and Goddard State Park Beach in Warwick.