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Media Advisory

Ocean Beach briefing, demo on rip currents

24 May 2006

ATTENTION: General assignment reporters

Contact: Roxanne Makasdjian, Media Relations
(510) 642-6051 roxannem@berkeley.edu

A media briefing and demonstration of the dangers of rip currents at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, which last week killed a man who tried to rescue two children caught in the current. As the Memorial Day weekend approaches and people flock to the beach, rip currents pose a special hazard along this section of the coast.

The United States Lifesaving Association, which has designated this National Beach Safety Week, estimates that about 80 percent of lifeguard rescues at the country's surf beaches involve people caught in rip currents.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. TOMORROW, Thursday, May 25.

Parking lot across from the Beach Chalet restaurant, just south of the intersection of Lincoln Way and the Great Highway, San Francisco.

Francis Smith, Ph.D., a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on the rip currents at Ocean Beach.

Smith, a coastal oceanographer, has studied rip currents at Ocean Beach for the past nine years, but has had experience with them since he was a teenage surfer in the 1970s and a San Francisco lifeguard in the 1980s. Smith holds this popular briefing periodically to publicize the dangers of rip currents in hopes of preventing drownings.

VISUALS: With the assistance of Ocean Beach lifeguards, Smith will demonstrate self-rescuing techniques to use if caught in a rip current. Smith recommends swimming parallel to the shore until free of the current, then paddling back toward the beach.


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