What Are Rips And How Can You Safely Escape One?

December 8, 2020


Summer is here, and people are returning to the beaches to cool off. It’s important that beach goers are re-educated about rips so during these upcoming summer months you are able to identify them and avoid potential dangers. 

People are constantly swimming directly into rips. The lack of understanding of what a rip looks like is the main reason people drown. One person will drown every two to three days this summer… 90% of those fatalities will be rip-related. 

Here are a few things that will help you and your kids stay safe this summer and how to avoid unsafe swimming areas. 

  1. The easiest thing to remember is that rips are often the calmest and most enticing looking area along a beach. Rips are the areas devoid of wave activity, appear darker and deceptively calmer. They can sometimes also appear milky or turbulent. All that water coming in via waves has to go back out somehow, this is what a rip is.
  2.  When you arrive at the beach observe surf conditions and take 5-10 minutes to identify these rip areas
  3. If you do get caught in a rip.  DO NOT PANIC. Relax, go into float mode and raise one arm as a distress signal. 
  4. Which direction is the rip taking you? Left, right, straight? If you have the energy swim in the direction it is taking you, go with the flow and never against it. Rips can move 3 times the speed of an Olympic swimmer, so don’t try and outswim it, you won’t win!
  5. Majority of rips won’t take you far out and will take you behind the waves. By staying calm and allowing the rip to take you behind the waves, you can use your saved energy to swim back to shore.

Kids can’t always be in your sight, and it only takes a few metres to get caught in a rip. If you have kids show them these pictures and educate them about how to identify rips and what to do if you get caught in this danger. 

Rips are the No.1 killer for beaches but are also one of the easiest dangers to identify and avoid. The safest place to swim is always between the flags but given the unpredictability of the ocean it’s important to have a basic understanding of rips.