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Rip Currents

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Well it’s my first blog of 2017 and after all that Christmas turkey I suspect a number of you have taken your Exotic Waterwear stinger suits for a swim, surf, SUP, scuba dive, snorkel or some such activity. Good on Ya!

Previously I’ve written about the protection our suits give against those dreaded skin cancer causing UV rays and jelly fish stings whilst at the beach however there is one hazard the suit can’t do a lot for; rip currents.

According to Matt Thompson, from Surf Life Saving Australia, “rips are the biggest killer in Australian waters with one person drowning every 2 to 3 days in summer and 90% of these fatalities are rip-related”.

With 17,000 rips happening around Australia at any given time I thought it would be timely to highlight their dangers. To make it easier to spot them, here are a few hints:

  • If waves are breaking, chances are there is a rip.
  • Rips can be 20 to 40 meters wide, flow out to sea up to 400 meters and occur every 200 meters or so along the length of the beach.
  • Most common type looks like a calm, dark path of water sitting among breaking waves.
  • They can also appear murky, brownish, with a choppy or rippled surface.
  • They tend to flow fastest around low tide.

Here’s a link on rips that is really quite good so if you are unfamiliar with how to spot them, what to do if caught, or possibly just as a refresher, it’s well worth a few minutes of your time. https://beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/ripcurrents.

This video is really well done, please watch it and maybe save your, or someone else’s, life!

If and when you head to the beach for a swim, the best advice is to stay between the flags if on a patrolled beach. The experts have checked the water for the safest place and are watching for those who may need help.

If you head to an unpatrolled beach, know what you’re doing.

  • Watch the waves and water flow 5 to 10 minutes looking for telltale signs of a rip before wetting a toe.
  • If caught in a rip “STAY CALM”, keep floating (the rip won’t pull you under) and raise an arm to attract attention.
  • If nobody is around you can try and swim parallel to the beach but always conserve your energy.
  • If you’re being pulled out to sea, remain calm so you’ll float, signal for help or swim slowly and gently towards the white water (means it’s shallower and the white water brings you back to the beach).

Neil, who always thinks outside the square (dangerously so sometimes!), just gave me a suggestion for a stinger suit that’s fluro; glow in the dark with GPS and jet propulsion!  

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