5 tips to recognise a rip at the beach this summer
4 January 2017
Swimming at the beach is easily a favourite summer time
activity, but what happens when the sea starts to change and
suddenly you find yourself amidst a rip? It sure can be pretty
scary. Below we have five tips to help you recognise a rip and how
to get yourself safely out of one.
What is a rip current?
A rip current is a body of water moving out to sea and is
usually noticeable by a foamy and rippled appearance, discoloured
water and debris floating toward the sea. Rips are complex, they
can quickly change shape and location and at times are difficult to
spot. Rip currents are the biggest threat to life on Australian
Beaches causing more drownings than any other factor. They are a
danger to all beachgoers.
How do I spot a rip?
Look out for deeper, darker coloured water, fewer breaking
waves, a rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters and anything
floating out to sea. However, rips don't always show all of these
signs at once making it harder to identify.
What are the different types of rip currents?
Fixed rip - can stay in the same place for
days, weeks, even months.
Permanent rip - is mostly found up against the
headlands or reefs and they flow out to sea.
Flash rip - They happen when there is a sudden
set of large waves which will come in and lift the water level. It
causes all that water that has come in to exit rapidly. This often
means that swimmers that were comfortable in the water are suddenly
caught out of their depth.
Mega rip - caused in stormy conditions when
there are really big waves.
Why are they dangerous?
Rip currents are most dangerous to those who don't know how they
work and what to do when they are caught in one. Rip currents can
be anywhere between 10 to 20 metres wide and have been known to
flow as far as 400m out to sea. They move fastest when the tide is
running from high to low, and can move as quickly as three metres a
second. They can move a lot faster than most people can swim.
How do I get myself out of a rip current?
It is important to stay calm and
consider your options. Raise an arm to seek help and/or try
floating with the current as in some
cases it will bring you back to the shore.
You can also swim parallel to the shore or towards breaking waves
and use them to help you in. If one of these options is not working
for you, try a different one until you are rescued.
Beach safety is important for
everyone and it is essential that you and your family always swim
between the red and yellow flags at beaches
patrolled by Surf Lifesavers. If you think you can see a rip, don't
risk it. Wait until it is gone, to prevent being caught in
unexpected waters. To check patrol times and conditions at your
local beach and learn more about rip current safety and how to spot
rips currents visit www.beachsafe.org.au or download the
If you're thinking about enrolling
your child in swimming and/or surf lifesaving lessons, click here to find
out more about locations and availability.