Stay calm in the rip is tip
YOU can hardly miss the message being pushed by Surf Life Saving Australia over summer about what to do if stuck in a rip.
‘To escape a rip, swim parallel to the beach ... to escape a rip, swim parallel to the beach.’
The campaign’s tagline is repeated at least eight times in commercials being used in a massive national advertising campaign.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s message is simple and clear, but is it right?
In recent weeks a debate has raged across the country about whether swimming parallel to the beach is the right message to be sending to the Australian public.
Scott McCartney, of the Australian Lifeguard Service, said it was a good message for people who were strong swimmers, but more needed to be added for everyone else.
“If you’re not a strong swimmer or you panic in a rip, you should calm down, let the rip take you out, wave your arms and save energy,” Mr McCartney said.
“Rips tend to only go a certain distance before they calm down and then it becomes easier to swim parallel along the beach.”
Captain of the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club, Steve Herbert, said the most important message he could give was that people should always stay calm.
He said good swimmers would probably be able to swim parallel to the beach to get out of trouble, but for most, the best thing to do was not panic and wait for the rip to take them out to deeper water.
He also suggested people should conserve energy by not calling out for help unless there were people close.
“Rather than leave it to the last moment, people stuck in a rip should try and get help by putting their hand up in the air for assistance,” he said.
“A hand up is more visual and people can see it from up to 300 metres away.”
With all Clarence Valley beaches now unpatrolled on weekdays, Mr Herbert said people needed to be extra careful when swimming in the ocean.
He said beachgoers should never swim by themselves, consider taking a floating device with them and if unsure, don’t be afraid to ask surfers or other people on the beach for guidance on where to swim.
“And if you’re really not sure, don’t go in,” he said.
“Go to the pool.”
The Yamba and Minnie Water-Wooli surf clubs will continue volunteer patrols on weekends and public holidays until April 26.
What to do?
Don’t try and swim against the rip current.
If you are confident, swim parallel to the beach – often this is towards the breaking waves, which can then assist you back to shore.
If at any time you feel you are unable to reach the beach – raise your arm and call for assistance, while floating to conserve your energy.
Always stay calm.