Lifesavers Reveal Ripping Truth

Surf Life Saving has launched a major national awareness campaign to alert the public to the true danger of rip currents.

Bondi was an appropriate setting for the launch of the Surf Life Saving campaign as a permanent rip at the southern end of the beach has triggered many rescues over the years.

One of the key focuses of the ‘The Facts about Rip Currents’ campaign that will be seen across national media, online and mobile channels ahead of peak summer is to shock Australians out of their complacency and dispel many of the myths that surround rip currents.

Contrary to popular belief, research conducted by SLSA found that young men between the age of 15-39 are most at risk of getting caught and drowning in a rip, and that it’s not just poor swimmers or tourists who get into difficulty.

In fact the research found;

• Only 15% of people who drown in rips are international visitors
• Young men aged 15-39 years who are most likely to get caught and die in rips
• Two out of three people who think they can identify a rip can’t

Andy Kent, Lifesaving Manager at Surf Life Saving NSW, says this campaign is predominately targeting those men who think they already know how to spot and escape a rip.

“All too often young men have an attitude of over-confidence and run into the waves before checking to see what the ocean conditions are doing. They get into trouble because they either haven’t checked for rips, can’t identify a rip and underestimate the strength of these currents, they swim after patrols finish or at unpatrolled beaches,” he said.

How can I spot a Rip Current?

• Rip currents will occur in deeper water, so it’s usually a darker colour compared to the white breaking waves over a sandbank
• Because the water is deeper, there will be less breaking waves or maybe an area with no waves at all, which can give the appearance of a safer spot to swim
• Rip currents can move things like sand, seaweed, or debris back out through the waves What do I do if I get caught in a Rip Current?

If you get caught in a rip current, you need to know your options

• Relax – stay calm and float to conserve your energy
• Raise – raise an arm and attract attention from the lifeguards or lifesavers
• Rescue – the lifeguards or lifesavers will be on their way to help you
• While floating, rip currents may flow in a circular pattern and return you to an adjacent sandbar
• You may escape the rip current by swimming parallel to the beach, towards the breaking waves
• You should regularly assess your situation. If your response is ineffective, you may need to adopt an alternative such as staying calm, floating and raising an arm to attract attention.

As part of the rip current awareness campaign, Surf Life Saving Australia has produced a detailed report into the rip current issue which is available to read below:

Mon 10 Oct 2016