Local news National

Rip currents: What to know about the dangers and how to escape

NOAA

(NEW YORK) — If you’re heading to the beach this summer, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of rip currents.

Here’s what you need to know about rip currents and how to stay safe:

A rip current, which flows out toward the ocean, can quickly pull a swimmer away from the shore.

Rip currents usually reach a speed of 1 to 2 feet per second, but some can clock in at 8 feet per second, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If you’re caught in a rip current, the first step is to flip to your back and float. Staying calm and not exhausting yourself by fighting against the current is essential to avoid drowning, NOAA said.

Next, you want to swim parallel to the sand until you escape the rip current, which is usually less than 80 feet wide, according to NOAA.

Experts advise looking up water conditions before heading to the beach and, if possible, swimming near a lifeguard.

Rip currents are often strongest at low tide, experts added.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association, you may be able to spot a rip current by looking for: a difference in water color; a line of foam or debris moving out to sea; or a narrow gap of darker, calm-looking water in between breaking waves.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Local news National

Fourth of July forecast calls for extreme heat for most of US

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — The Fourth of July holiday is stacking up to be a scorcher for most of the nation.

Numerous record temperatures are expected to be broken as highs in California are forecast to stay in the triple digits through Independence Day and beyond, and hot, humid weather down South will make some places like New Orleans feel close to 120 degrees.

California, particularly cities in the San Joaquin Valley, is expected to see temperatures soar past the 110 mark for multiple days this week.

In Palm Springs, thermometers could reach 115 degrees, and similar temperatures are expected for neighboring states Arizona and Nevada.

Both Las Vegas and Phoenix are forecast to hit 115 around the holiday.

Factoring in the heat index, the nation’s southern states are forecast to endure hot, sticky weather through this week. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature, according to the National Weather Service.

On Sunday, an excessive heat warning was issued for the Lower Mississippi River Valley, where the heat index could reach up to 118 degrees. New Orleans is facing a heat index of up to 118 both on Sunday and Monday.

Heat advisories are in effect for much of the East Coast, as well. In the Carolinas, the heat index will make it feel like 110 on Sunday, while Virginia will feel like 108, and in Philadelphia and central New Jersey, the heat index will be around 103 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, hot weather up and down the East Coast is expected to give way to severe weather Sunday.

More than 60 million people along the Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina to Maine are expected to be in the storm zone Sunday afternoon.

The East Coast storms are forecast to form under hot and humid conditions. The strongest storms are expected to arrive between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Business Local news

Walgreens to close ‘significant’ number of struggling US stores, CEO says

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Walgreens plans to close a large share of its U.S. stores over the next three years, Chief Executive Tim Wentworth said on a conference call with industry analysts on Thursday.

Wentworth described a quarter of the company’s 8,500 stores as “underperforming,” saying the health care giant would close a “significant portion” of those locations. The exact number of closures is still being finalized, Wentworth said.

Walgreens will make changes at the remainder of the struggling stores in an effort to revitalize them, Wentworth said. “We will continue to consider closure if they don’t improve,” he added.

The announcement arrives nearly seven months after the company embarked on a wide-ranging review of the business in response to flagging consumer spending and adverse changes in the pharmacy industry.

“Everything has been on the table,” Wentworth said. “We are at a point where the current pharmacy model is unsustainable.”

The company reported $28.5 billion in revenue over the three months ending in May, which amounted to a slight increase compared to the same period a year ago, an earnings release on Thursday showed. The results nevertheless underperformed expectations, the company said.

The recent struggles for the company’s U.S. business have stemmed in part from price-conscious customers fatigued by a yearslong bout of elevated prices that have strained household budgets.

“Our customers have become increasingly selective and price-sensitive in their purchases,” Wentworth said.

Walgreens has slashed prices on many of its products this year, keeping pace with discounts at other major retail chains like Target and McDonald’s. Last month, Walgreens announced discounts for 1,300 of its products, enticing customers with lower prices for many items, including miniature pretzels to coolers to gummy vitamins.

Lower prices have triggered some additional customer spending but have hurt the company’s profit margins, Walgreens Boots Alliance CFO Manmohan Mahajan said on Thursday’s conference call.

The company is also facing challenges within the pharmacy industry due to costly regulations and insufficient reimbursements, Wentworth said. He pointed to the relationship between the company and third-party pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, which act as intermediaries between insurance companies and pharmacies.

“We continue to have active discussions with PBM and supplier partners,” Wentworth said.

Walgreens will seek to minimize layoffs and retain workers as it cuts stores, Wentworth said. “We intended to redeploy the vast majority of the workforce at the stores we close,” he added.

The company, based in Deerfield, Illinois, employs about 240,000 people nationwide. In 2021, the company raised the minimum wage for staff to $15 per hour.

On Thursday, Walgreens lowered financial expectations for the forthcoming quarter. Still, Wentworth said he remains optimistic about the company’s future.

“I’m at Walgreens today because I believe in the future of retail pharmacy and particularly our future,” he said. “Human-to-human interaction is an imperative in healthcare and the core foundation of our business.”

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.