From Allan Mundy
Surf Life Saving New Zealand
I have a couple of questions for you…
Last year lifeguards like me saved 1,517 people from life threatening situations. Around 85% of these rescues were a result of something that people just like you didn’t know how to respond to. These rescues were the result of rips.
Do you know how to identify a rip? If you got stuck in one – would you know what to do? If the answer is no, then read on! It could just save your life, or that of someone you know.
Rips are caused by complex interactions between the sea and the shape of the shore bed. As waves travel from deep to shallow water, they eventually break near the shoreline. All this water needs to get back to sea; a rip current is this happening. As waves break, they generate currents that flow both along, and away from, the coast. The larger the surf, the stronger the rip current will be.
At the shore end of a rip is often a calm deep pool of water “the Hole.” It is this calm water that catches more people off guard the any other part of the rip, simply because of the calm deep water; it seems so tranquil, especially when either side of it are breaking waves. They are dangerous because when people get into them and can’t touch the bottom, the current will carry them into the rip channel in a matter of minutes to seconds.
A lot of people panic when they find themselves caught in one and they tire themselves quickly by trying to fight against it.
They key is not to panic!
Here’s what to do:
1) Lie on your back and let the rip sweep you along until the current weakens.
2) Stay calm and put your hand up and wave it side to side to attract attention.
3) When the current has subsided, swim parallel to the shore for 30-40 metres before returning to shore, swimming slowly.
If you spot someone in a rip at an unpatrolled beach, ensure your own safety and call 111 and ask for Police.
The beach is New Zealand’s favourite playground and we want to keep it that way. Learning about the risks and being prepared will mean we can all have a great summer. Find out more at www.findabeach.co.nz…
National Lifesaving Manager – SLSNZ