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  • Writer's pictureCraig Riddington

Misconceptions about rips and waves

• People have been told and continue to be told that rips go "out to sea" meaning that a swimmer caught in a rip will stop at nothing to get back to the beach, including swimming against a rip until drowning occurs.

Rips go off the beach not "out to sea", approximately 90% circulate within the surf break returning swiftly to a sandbank. Only10% of rips go out past the surf break, these usually in larger unmanageable surf conditions

• People think that rips are associated with an undertow, and fear getting taken underwater.

This is not the case - rips do not drag a floating object under water

• People think that waves are dangerous and are the cause of drowning. This is also one of the reasons why victims may choose to swim in the perceived calmer water of a rip, and why they may try to swim away from the waves when rips turn onto the sandbank. The key is to reduce the potential for panic by encouraging swimmers caught in rips to stay calm, stay afloat, and signal for help

• Floating is the best way to keep our heads above water for longer. The word float is generally associated with pleasant, relaxation, calmness, and energy conservation

• Any rip educational message should provide more motivation to swim between the red and yellow flags

• Rip messages should also be supported by documents, articles, videos and images

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