Getting caught in a rip current is an all-too-common occurence at our surf beaches in Aotearoa, with tens of thousands of rescues taking place every year and many of the fatal drownings at beaches being directly related to rip currents.
Over the last ten years, over one-third (38%) of beach and coastal fatal drownings occurred at a surf beach in New Zealand. Rip currents are the greatest hazard at a surf beach; however, SLSNZ research shows nearly two-thirds (60%) of New Zealanders cannot identify a rip.
This blog covers recognising rips and how to manage yourself if you end up getting caught in one.
WHAT IS A RIP?
A rip current is a strong and fast flowing current moving toward the sea that travels up to one to two metres per second. Rip currents usually develop close to the shoreline. Rip currents are dangerous because they carry anything in the water seawards to deeper waters. Most people don’t know how strong a rip current is until they are caught in one.
(The red arrows in this image are the rips.)
HOW TO RECOGNISE A RIP
You need to be able to recognise a rip current and stay out of them.
What to look for:
Out to sea
REAL-LIFE SCENARIO: Recognising a rip
This 360 degree video gives you a bird’s eye view of O’Neill beach in Auckland.
Use your mouse or finger to navigate around, along with the prompts on screen, to see if you can spot the rip.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET CAUGHT IN A RIP
Remember the 3 Rs if you get caught in a rip current:
REAL-LIFE SCENARIO: Managing yourself in a rip
This 360 degree video, filmed at at Te Henga, Bethell’s beach in Auckland shows a real-life scenario
of people caught in a rip current.
Use your mouse or finger to navigate around, along with the prompts on screen, to see how they managed themselves.
So how can you prepare yourself to stay safe at the beach this Summer?
1. Know how to recognise a rip
2. Know what to do if you get caught in a rip
3. On a patrolled beach, always swim between the red and yellow flags
4. Always stay within your own ability and keep an eye on the conditions
ONLINE LEARNING RELATED TO COASTAL & BEACH SAFETY
For more information about open water safety and coastal awareness, check out the following e-learning modules:
Water Safety for Youth and Young Adults
Adult Water Safety
Me mataara ki ngā tūraru, me mataara ki ō āheinga.
Aua fakahanoa! Aua fakatokoluga haau tau manatu!
Aua le soona soona fuaina lo outou gafatia pe manatu faatauvaa i tulaga lamatia