Natural hazards: Rips and how to spot them

Visiting the beach is a fun and memorable part of any Aussie childhood. It’s an activity that gets the whole family involved and creates lasting memories. Yet as with any water activity, there are risks. Education is key to minimising these risks and protecting our loved ones. At Aquatica, we value water safety. It’s a huge part of our philosophy and a core part of our teaching. Learning to understand ocean rips and how they operate, as well as how to spot them will help you avoid them and most importantly, get out of them.

What are rips?

By definition, a rip is an area void of wave activity and appears darker and deceptively calmer than the rest. The safest, most calmest looking area along a beach is usually a rip. Whilst there are no waves which is attractive to some, there is a strong current that hides beneath the surface.

Avoiding rips

The best way to avoid rips is to swim between the red and yellow flags on beaches patrolled by Surf Life Savers. This is the safest way to enjoy the ocean and protect you and your children. When you arrive at a beach, be sure to spend five minutes observing the surf conditions, identifying where the rips are and where the flags are positioned.

What to do if you’re caught in a rip

If you are caught in a rip, it is important to remain calm and not panic. Panicking is exhausting and your energy should be conserved for getting out of the rip. Transition into a floating position and raise one arm as a distress signal when possible. Take note of which direction the rip is taking you, is it straight out or at an angle? Once you have determined which direction the rip is taking you, swim to the right or left of the direction of flow. Note: Never swim against the rip! 

If you don’t have the energy or ability to swim to either side of the rip, just go with it. Majority of rips wont take you out very far, and will usually throw you out not long after they take you. Just remember to remain calm and save your energy for the swim back to shore.

Education is vital

As children are visual learners, it is best to show them a picture or stand with them on the beach, when educating them about rips and strong currents. We understand it is not possible to watch your kids every minute of the day, which is why we highly recommend educating your children about the dangers of rips. Adequate surf life saving skills accompanied with a strong swimming ability could be the difference your child needs when confronted with a rip.

Need help developing your child’s water confidence and swimming ability? We can help! Contact us today.

See you next month,

Weronika and the team at Aquatica Swim Academy.

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