4.2 million Australian’s have been caught in a rip current
As the summer season heats up, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has put a call out to all beachgoers asking ‘please don’t risk the rip’.
New research released by SLSA revealed that 4.2 million Australian’s (one in four) aged 16-69 have, at least once in their lives, been caught in a rip current unintentionally.
Rip currents are the number one beach hazard in Australia taking an average of 19 lives each year.
Yet more than half of swimmers surveyed by SLSA said they don’t always look for a rip before entering the ocean.
Sadly, it is young men who are the most at risk of getting caught and drowning in a rip current. In the past twelve years rip currents have claimed 230 lives; half of these being males aged 15-39.
The ‘facts about rips’ campaign, which runs across outdoor, television, radio and online targets young men who think they already know how to spot, and escape a rip current.
Shane Daw ESM, National Risk and Coastal Safety Manager at Surf Life Saving Australia said the research helped identify behaviours that contributed to the alarming amount of young male fatalities.
“All too often young men have an attitude of over-confidence and enter the surf before checking to the ocean conditions, sadly, that overconfidence can prove deadly.”
“They get into trouble because they either haven’t checked for rips or can’t correctly identify a rip, or swim at unpatrolled locations.” Mr Daw said.
By busting the myths and challenging peoples understanding and behaviours SLSA hopes to bring some sobering truths to the surface this summer season, including the following:
- Only 16% of people who drown in rips currents are international visitors;
- It’s young men aged 15-39 years who are most likely to get caught and die in rips and;
- Two out of three people who think they can identify a rip current can’t.
While the campaigns primary objective is to ask beachgoers to not to risk a rip current, SLSA are asking swimmers to learn what to do if they find themselves caught in a rip current.
There are three options:
- Raise an arm and call out for help, you may be rescued.
- Float with the current, it may return you to a shallow sandbank, or
- Swim parallel to the beach or towards the breaking waves until you escape the rip current.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, re-assess the situation and try one of the other options.
To get serious about beach safety, check the facts at www.beachsafe.org and swim between the red and yellow flags.