National Rip Current Awareness Day

Beachgoers will be given a valuable lesson in surf safety this Sunday when surf lifesavers release fluoro dye into the surf to highlight rip current movements.

The initiative is part of Surf Life Saving’s annual Rip Current Awareness Day.

A record number of clubs are taking part this year - 100 beaches across the country (54 in NSW) will be releasing dye into the water as part of the safety campaign, giving swimmers and onlookers an opportunity to develop a greater awareness of rip currents.

According to Surf Life Saving statistics, the number one cause of coastal drowning is people caught in rip currents. In addition to this, the majority of rescues performed by surf lifesavers are due to people caught in rip currents.

Surf Life Saving NSW Lifesaving Manager, Dean Storey, emphasises the importance of greater public awareness when it comes to rip currents.

“Every summer we see thousands of beachgoers get into trouble because they can’t properly identify a rip current. Dye releases allow us to demonstrate where rips are and how they operate. We want to make sure everyone knows what a rip current looks like so they can avoid them in the first place,” said Storey.

So how do you spot a rip current without the aid of dye? Dean Storey says beachgoers need to look out for some key indicators.

"Rip currents can be identified by darker channels of water with fewer breaking waves. Sandy-coloured water extending beyond the surf zone can also indicate the presence of a rip. Because these areas of water can look calm, swimmers assume it's the safest place to swim and that’s when they can get themselves into a dangerous situation.

"The most important thing beachgoers can do to avoid rips is to swim between the red and yellow flags. Surf lifesavers place the flags in safer areas, away from rip currents. Also look out for safety signs on the beach which will alert you to the presence of a known rip current. And if beachgoers are in doubt, they simply shouldn't go out into the surf," said Storey.

In an effort to further understand rip currents, Surf Life Saving has partnered with the University of New South Wales to conduct ground-breaking research on rip currents. Also, this week, Surf Life Saving Australia is hosting the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium at Long Reef in Sydney. The event will see rip current scientists and experts from all over the world gather to discuss how to further prevent drownings on our beaches caused by this hazard.

“Ongoing research is crucial to the development of beach safety campaigns which help people better understand rip currents, ultimately saving lives,” said Storey.

NSW Surf Clubs Participating in Rip Current Awareness Day

Far North Coast Branch - Yamba

North Coast Branch - Bellinger Valley-North Beach, Coffs Harbour, Urunga, Woolgoolga

Hunter Branch - Caves Beach, Cooks Hill, Dixon Park, Fingal Beach, Nobbys Beach, Redhead, Tea Gardens Hawks Nest

Central Coast Branch - Avoca Beach, Killcare, MacMasters Beach, North Avoca, North Entrance,Ocean Beach, Shelly Beach, Soldiers Beach, Terrigal, The Entrance, The Lakes, Toowoon Bay, Umina, Wamberal

Sydney Northern Beaches Branch - Manly, Mona Vale, North Curl Curl, South Curl Curl, South Narrabeen

Sydney Branch - Bondi, Bronte, Burning Palms, Coogee, Elouera, Era, Garie, Maroubra, North Bondi, North Cronulla

Illawarra Branch - Bulli, Coledale, Corrimal, Helensburgh-Stanwell Park,North Wollongong, Port Kembla, Scarborough Wombarra, Thirroul, Wollongong City, Woonona

Far South Coast Branch - Batemans Bay, Broulee Surfers, Tathra

Mon 26 Nov 2012