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It’s a time when the mercury is almost as high as the bikini bottoms; Australian summers are simply made for long days spent by the beach, but with almost 300 drowning deaths last year – 15% of them aged 25-34 – it’s so important to know how to identify a rip before you and your mates jump in the ocean.
A rip is a strong current that flows away from the shore. When someone gets caught in a rip, it can drag them past where the waves break and into deeper water.
The real danger comes when you start to panic and swim against the rip. So, it’s recommended to keep calm if you do get caught in a rip; raise your arm to seek help and try floating with the current or swimming parallel to the shore and use the breaking waves to help you get back in.
Rips can be tricky to spot and, because they can change shape and location, you need to stay aware at all times. Some of the characteristics of a rip are:
Play it safe when you’re heading to out for a swim and check out Surf Life Saving Australia’s beach safety page. Make sure you swim at a patrolled beach and complete appropriate first aid training.