High surf advisory means swimming is at your own risk

LIVE SURF CONDITIONS: Narragansett Beach Cam »

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — With a high surf advisory issued for Southern New England shoreline beaches Tuesday, any plans to enter the water for a swim at the beach may not be advisable — from Watch Hill to New Bedford.

“Definitely be careful,” said lifeguard David Leite, a head lifeguard at Baker’s Beach who was jogging on Horseneck Beach in Westport Tuesday morning. “If you’re not a strong swimmer, if you can’t swim on your own — definitely don’t go out.”

Leite said the concern for rough surf is the potential for dangerous rip currents. “The pushing factor could be the riptide — that’s what you want to look out for,” he said.

Under a high surf advisory, individual waves may be more than twice their average height, and they could carry enough power to drag and carry unsuspecting swimmers out to sea.

Leite reiterated rip current tips: “If you feel like you are in a rip current, swim sideways, parallel to the shore; don’t swim out, don’t swim against it, you’re going to tire yourself out. It’s going to pull you right back out. Swim to the left or the right. You’ll almost feel yourself moving away from it, you won’t be feeling that pull towards the ocean — so definitely swim sideways and then to shore.”

Lifeguards also live by the saying, “When in doubt, don’t go out.”

Anyone who has not taken swimming lessons or may be questioning their swimming abilities should play it safe and stay out of the water during the advisory, which is set to expire at 8 p.m. Tuesday.