Don’t risk the rip
In a bid to combat the ongoing issue of drowning deaths along the Australian coastline, Surf Life Saving Australia has launched a sobering safety campaign highlighting the serious dangers of rip currents – and according to figures, it’s young men who are most at risk of losing their lives.
‘The Facts about Rip Currents’ campaign will bust some common myths associated with beach safety and will run across national television, radio, newspapers, outdoor, online and mobile media ahead of summer.
These myths include the perception that it’s only tourists who get caught in rips, that rips only take the lives of poor swimmers, or that competent swimmers know how to spot a rip.
According to research:
Only 15 per cent of people who drown in rips are international visitors
Young men aged 15-39 years are most likely to get caught and drown in rips
Two out of three people who think they can identify a rip, can’t
Rips are the number one danger swimmers face when enjoying a day at the beach and surprisingly, more people drown in rips each year, than deaths from shark attacks, floods and cyclones combined.
Shane Daw, Coastal Safety Manager at Surf Life Saving Australia, says this campaign is predominately targeting 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,” Mr Daw said.
“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.”
With this in mind, Mr Daw advised it’s really important that people know what to do if they find themselves caught in a rip. There are three options:
Raise an arm and call out for help, or
Float with the current, it may return you to a shallow sandbank, or
- Swim parallel to the beach or towards the breaking waves, you may return to shore
If what you’re doing isn’t working, re-assess the situation and try one of the other options.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s clear message this summer is ‘Don’t Risk the Rip’, a message echoed by Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield.
“We had many tragedies on beaches in Bass Coast over the past year, and we don’t want to see anymore lives lost. “I can’t emphasise strongly enough how important it is to never swim in dangerous conditions, no matter how strong a swimmer you may be, and to always have someone looking out for you – never swim in the ocean alone,” Cr Rothfield said.
“If in doubt, ask a surf lifesaver about an alternative place to swim and, where possible, swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.”
To find out more information about rips, visit www.beachsafe.org.au.