Safety Tips

Rip Currents Satefy Tips

Rip currents are responsible for many deaths at beaches and lakes around the world. Beach goers should be aware of how dangerous rip currents are and swim at beaches which they are familiar with or which have designated swimming areas.

As waves break, they push water towards the shoreline, once the water reaches the shore it has to find a way back out to sea and it does this by flowing into deeper channels in the surf area. Once the water is in these deeper areas, it can flow back out to sea away from the shoreline. These deeper areas are called rip currents.

Here are some simple tips to recognize/spot a rip current:

  • Rip Currents occur in deeper water, so it’s usually a darker colour compared to the white breaking waves over a sandbank.
  • Because the water is deeper, there will be fewer breaking waves which can give the appearance of a safer area to swim.
  • Rip Currents can move things like sand, seaweed, or debris back out through the waves.

If you are caught in a rip current,

  • Stay calm and don’t fight the current.
  • Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore.
  • If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.

Additional Rip Current information:

  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties, permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
  • If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from someone, if help is not available, have someone call 999 or 457-4578.
  • Throw the victim something that floats – a life jacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.
  • When at the beach, check conditions before entering the water. Check to see if any warning signs are up or ask about water conditions, beach conditions, or any potential hazards.

Rip currents can be particularly dangerous if you don’t understand how they work. They can often lead to drowning when swimmers attempt to fight the current by trying to swim directly back to the shore, become exhausted and begin to panic. A rip current will not pull you underwater, if you get caught in a Rip Current stay calm and follow these three R’s:

  • Relax – stay calm and float to conserve your energy.
  • Raise – raise an arm to attract attention of someone ashore.
  • Rescue – lifesavers will be on their way to help you.

How to Spot and React to a Rip Current

Currents are caused by an excessive amount of water that’s like an underwater stream. They can form in any large open water area, such as shallow areas and breaks in sandbars or near piers, jetties and other structures.