Before racing into the ocean it pays to stop, look, and plan no matter what your age or ability in the water. This is the key message a new Surf Life Saving safety campaign is taking to Australians everywhere this summer.
Surf Lifesavers launched the campaign at Sydney’s Tamarama Beach on Thursday as the new national campaign “Think Line”, hits the market a fortnight out from the Christmas/New Year period, a traditionally busy time for those who wear the red and yellow.
Rip currents are an ever present danger on NSW beaches responsible for a significant number of rescues performed by surf lifesavers, while alarmingly, research shows that while beachgoers express confidence in their ability to recognise a rip, in reality less than half actually can.
It is believed that nearly 4 million Australians have experienced the terror of being caught in a rip current with the majority of those involved in a fatal incident are males aged 25-39.
This new awareness campaign calls on Australians to draw a line on the sand and to pause, look for hazards, and assess the dangers before entering the ocean. Stop. Think. Plan, is the message.
It is a continuation of a multi-year approach by Surf Life Saving to encourage Australians to be beach-aware and to help lower the national drowning death toll.
Surf lifesavers are trained to both watch and respect the ocean but they too have tales to tell of rushing to the aid of swimmers caught in rips
In a powerful message that features in the campaign, rip-current survivor Samantha Morley talks about being rescued by Camden Haven lifesavers Tony Worton and Phil Traves after being swept away by a rip current and spending 90 minutes in big seas on the state’s Mid North Coast at Easter 2017.
The two lifesavers involved were later honoured with numerous rescue awards for their bravery including an SLSA Meritorious Award. The pair visiting Sydney for the launch and were reunited with Samantha for the first time since the rescue.
“Just to meet Samantha finally, was fantastic. We hadn’t seen her since the rescue and it was great for us to come together today, to get the message out about beach safety,” said Tony Worton.
Mother of two, Sam Morley agreed and said she was happy to be part of the rips campaign for this summer.
“It was pretty awesome, meeting the guys face to face. That day was so wild and crazy, then the guys came out over the waves to save me. They were so brave.
“I’m hoping through this campaign that people will see my story and see that I’m just an ordinary person and it will make them stop and think. I owe my life to these surf lifesavers and I’m hoping my story can make a difference,” said Samantha.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said the safety campaign was a timely reminder for people to be conscious of the dangers of the ocean during at a time of the year when people are looking forward to relaxing at the beach.
“I might be biased but NSW has some of the best beaches and stretches of coastline in the country, however rips can happen anywhere anytime and this is why we strongly encourage people to swim at a patrolled location and between those red and yellow flags.
“Sadly we have already had 11 coastal drownings this year and we don’t want to add to that number by people getting caught in a rip and tragically drowning.
“If you do happen to find yourself caught in a rip it’s crucial not to panic. You need to conserve energy and wait for assistance from surf lifesavers. However prevention is the best course of action and we urge everyone to stop, look, and plan before entering the water,” Mr Pearce said.
How to spot a rip current?
Rips are complex, can quickly change shape and location, and at times, are difficult to see. The things to look for are;
- Deeper, dark-coloured water.
- Fewer breaking waves.
- A rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters.
- Anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves.
Rips don’t always show all of these signs at once.
How to survive a rip current?
- Relax – stay calm and float to conserve your energy.
- Raise – raise your arm and attract attention from 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.
- Reassess your situation. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try one of the other options until you’re rescued or return to shore.
For more information on rips and tips to stay safe at the beach, please visit beachsafe.org.au
Friday 14 Decmeber 2018