A new iPhone application is available to help beachgoers identify rips.
A new iPhone application is available to help beachgoers identify rips.

Rip info now online

SURF lifesavers have commenced rip current education activities on NSW beaches, as part of a nationwide push to reduce the number of rip-related drownings on the Australian coastline.

From 2004-2010, 118 people drowned on Australian beaches as a direct result of being caught in rips, while about 80 per cent of all rescues performed by surf lifesavers are attributed to rip currents. Most coastal drowning deaths are still occurring at unpatrolled beaches and at times when no help is immediately available.

Surf Life Saving Australia manager Dean Storey said many incidents could be prevented if swimmers knew more about rip currents and, most importantly, how to avoid them in the first place.

“People should always swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags – this is the best way to avoid a rip current, but statistics show some people are flaunting this message and drowning as a result,” Mr Storey said.

“Surf Life Saving is focusing on this problem by making patrol information easier to find through the website www.beachsafe.org.au and a new iPhone application. SLS is also looking to educate all Australians about rip currents, including how to identify one and also how to survive one if caught.”

Volunteer surf lifesavers will be at the forefront of rip current education, delivering ‘on-beach’ educational sessions and promoting rip current awareness to the public over the coming weekends.

“Our surf lifesavers and lifeguards on some of NSW’s most populated beaches will be conducting on-beach rip current education sessions, which the public are encouraged to participate in. Additionally, signage and posters will be on display and flyers handed out describing what rip currents look like and how they work.

Surf Life Saving is also promoting the following rip current survival chain as a way to educate all Australians on how to be safe and avoid getting into trouble at the beach.

You can survive a rip current, by knowing your options:

  To avoid rip currents, always swim between the red and yellow flags.

  For assistance stay calm, float and raise an arm to attract attention.

  To escape a rip current, swim parallel to the beach.

  Conserve your energy; waves can assist you back to the beach.

“Surf Life Saving’s key safety message remains – always swim between the red and yellow flags,” said Mr Storey.

To find patrolled beaches in NSW please visit www.beachsafe.org.au or download the free ‘Beachsafe’ iPhone application.

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