In light of the recent drowning tragedy at Mollymook, Surf Life Saving has issued some timely advice on ‘how avoid’ and ‘what to do’ if caught in a rip and remind all beachgoers to only swim at patrolled beaches this
While the majority (89 per cent) of the 38 swimming related coastal fatalities last summer were due to people being caught in rips, a DHL Surf Safety Survey found that only 19 percent of Australians know how to recognise a rip and if caught in one, less than half know how to get out of trouble.
The DHL Surf Safety Survey found that of the 625 respondents, 72 per cent rely on beach signs or advice from lifesavers to identify rips, and if they find themselves in strong currents the majority (53 per cent) rely on lifesavers to rescue them with only 43 per cent knowing how to get out of trouble by themselves.
“It’s great to see that people recognise the skills of our surf lifesavers. However prevention is better than a cure, and swimmers should learn to recognise and avoid rips instead of just depending on surf lifesavers who put their own lives on the line to save others,” said Gary Edstein, Senior Vice President, DHL Express Oceania.
One or more of following features might alert you to the presence of a rip:
- darker colour, indicating deeper water
- murky brown water caused by sand stirred up off the bottom
- smoother surface with much smaller waves, alongside white water (broken waves)
- waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of the rip
- debris floating out to sea
- a rippled look, when the water around is generally calm
If caught in a rip:
- Don’t panic – stay calm and conserve your energy.
- Float with the current, don’t fight it and signal for assistance. If you are a confident swimmer, swim parallel to the shore until you reach the breaking wave zone, then try and swim back to shore.
- If you don’t think you can swim parallel to the shore away from the rip, stay calm, float with the rip and signal for assistance.
- Remember to stay calm and conserve your energy.
“Last summer there were 40,000 active surf lifesavers and paid lifeguards conducting more than 13,600 rescues. Our vision is to reduce drowning deaths in Australia by 50 per cent by 2020 and educating people on how to identify and get out of a rip will play a large role in achieving this goal” said Brett Williamson, Chief Executive Officer, Surf Life Saving Australia.
For more information visit the Surf Life Saving Australia website www.slsa.asn.au