Rips Remain Most Deadly Hazard on Australian Beaches
As school holidays kick off across the country and many take Christmas leave, surf lifesavers are urging families visiting the coast this summer to be aware of the number one hazard on Australian beaches; rip currents.
On average 26 people die as a result of rip currents every year, with rips being the number one swimming hazard in the country.
Research released today by Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) in the Rip Currents Coastal Safety Brief 2021 reports that 3.7 million Australians have been unintentionally caught in a rip current, with 26% needing to be rescued or assisted to safety.
Surf Life Saving Australia General Manager Coastal Safety, Shane Daw ESM said the message this summer is to swim at patrolled locations, during patrol times.
“Already this summer there has been eight coastal drowning deaths, with four of those reported to be attributed to rip currents. While this is below last year’s start to summer, one drowning death is one too many,” Daw said.
“59% of rip-related deaths occurred further than one kilometre away from a Surf Life Saving service, with 50% recorded at unpatrolled locations during patrol season.”
“Our message this summer is simple, keep your friends and family safe by swimming at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags.”
Between 2011-2021 SLSA have recorded 264 rip-current-related coastal deaths, 96% of which were due to drowning.
The majority of these deaths were males, with over half of all rip-related deaths occurring during the Summer months (Dec-Feb).
Concerningly only 42% of beachgoers swim at a patrolled beach during patrol hours, while only 46% of beachgoers always look for rip currents before entering the water.
Moreover, over half of all Australian adults are not confident in their ability to identify a rip with less than 10% of adults reporting that they can confidently spot a rip.
“Research shows that two out three people who thought they knew what a rip looked like, in fact were unable to identify a rip current correctly. There are 17,000 rip currents across Australia on any given day, with 1 in 4 people rarely or never looking for a rip before they swim,” said Daw.
“Alarmingly, we continue to see people who choose to swim at unpatrolled locations, away from surf lifesavers and lifeguards and they don’t know how to correctly spot a rip, which is a combination that can have deadly circumstances.
“If you do find yourself at an unpatrolled location, remember to STOP, LOOK and PLAN before entering the water. STOP to check for rips, LOOK for other hazards and PLAN how to stay safe.
Surf lifesavers are expecting another busy summer on Australian beaches and while the patrolled beaches may be busy, they are the best place for people to enjoy the iconic coast safely.
SLSA’s Beach Safe APP also makes it quick and easy to find the nearest patrolled location and also gives beachgoers easy to understand safety information to keep themselves and loved ones safe.
To understand more about rip currents, how to spot a rip and to find your nearest patrolled beach, visit www.beachsafe.org.au or download the Beach Safe APP.
To view the in-depth analysis on Rip Currents – click here for the Coastal Safety Brief Rip Currents 2021
For all the latest coastal drowning trends – click here for the National Coastal Safety Report 2021
Key Rip Current Facts:
- 3.7M Australian adults have been unintentionally caught in a rip
- 1 in 3 Australian adults do not know how to identify a rip current
- On average, 26 people die each year due to rip currents
- 1 in 3 rip-related deaths were aged 20-29 years old
- Men continue to be overrepresented accounting for 86% of rip-related deaths
- 50% rip related deaths occurred during patrol season but at an unpatrolled location
- 59% rip related deaths occurred further than 1km from SLS service
- There are 17,000 rip currents around Australian on any given day
Key Summer Safety Messages:
- Swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
- Adopt a STOP, LOOK, PLAN approach:
STOP – check for rip currents
LOOK – for the other hazards
PLAN – to stay safe, to swim at a patrolled location – check beachsafe.org.au
- Wear a lifejacket if boating, rock fishing or on watercraft
- Check weather conditions before heading out
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when on or around water
- Supervise children at all times on, in and around water