As the weather heats up, many people will head to the beach. And while shark sightings are becoming a safety concern for beachgoers, there’s a greater threat that’s often overlooked.
Writing an article for The Age, Rob Brander asks what we can do to stop these drownings.
“There seems to be a dangerous complacency about the rip current hazard. It almost seems accepted that even though our beaches have red and yellow flags, lifeguards and lifesavers, these drownings, while terrible, are just something that happens,” writes Rob.
“But they shouldn't happen. All rip drownings are avoidable. If you don't get in a rip, you won't drown in one, but most fatalities are due to poor or uninformed decisions about where to go swimming.”
A key problem is that many of these drownings happen on unpatrolled beaches, meaning, “The only safety net is their knowledge of surf hazards,” says Rob.
Just as we are taught to look both ways before crossing the road, Rob suggests the same care should be taken before entering the surf.
In addition, he adds, “The federal government should make it mandatory that beach safety information is shown on planes and made available in airports to all incoming passengers.
“It's not hard to do and certainly doesn't cost millions.”
According to the Surf Life Saving Australia YouTube page, “Rips are complex, can quickly change shape and location, and at times, are difficult to see.”
“The things to look for are deeper, dark-coloured water; fewer breaking waves; a rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters; and anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves.
"Rips don’t always show all of these signs at once. Can you spot a rip?”
Watch the video below.