Rips are one of the main causes of drowning and rescues on surf beaches. When visiting any surf beach for a swim, you need to be aware of rips and where they are located.
What is a rip and how do I recognise one?
Rips are one of the most common hazards at Australian beaches. Rips are fast-flowing currents where the water flows out in the direction that causes the least resistance.
Recognising a rip is the first step in being able to avoid being caught in one. To recognise a rip look for discoloured water, brown in colour due to sand being stirred from the bottom, foam on the surface that extends beyond the breaking waves, a ripple appearance when the water around is generally calm, debris floating with the current and waves breaking larger and further out on both sides of the rip.
How do I reduce my risk of getting caught by a rip?
The best way to avoid getting caught in a rip is learning how to spot them, then choosing a place to swim that is not close to one. The best way to stay safe is to always swim in areas designated safe for swimming by lifeguards. In countries like Australia and New Zealand, safe areas are marked by a pair of red and yellow flags.
What do I do if I get caught in a rip?
If you are caught in a rip, do not panic, remain calm.
If you are a poor or non-swimmer then you should go with the rip, float and wave and wait to be rescued.
If you are a weak or tired swimmer then you should swim parallel to the shore and then return to shore when conditions allow.
If you are a strong swimmer you should either swim parallel to the shore or angle your body diagonally across the current, returning to the shore through the breaking waves.
For more information on rips and how you can spot them, you can visit the Beachsafe website created by Surf Life Saving Australia.