A rip is a strong current running out to sea. Rips are the cause of most rescues performed at beaches.
A rip usually occurs when a channel forms between the shore and a sandbar, and large waves have built up water which then returns to sea, causing a drag effect.
The larger the surf, the stronger the rip. Rips are dangerous as they can carry a weak or tired swimmer out into deep water.
Rip Current Signs
- Darker colour, indicating deeper water.
- Murky brown water caused by sand stirred up off the bottom.
- Smoother surface with much smaller waves, alongside white water (broken waves).
- Waves breaking further out to sea on both sides of the rip.
- Debris floating out to sea.
- A rippled look, when the water around is generally calm.
What to do if you get caught in a rip?
- Don't Panic - stay calm.
- Float with the current, don't fight it.
- Do not swim against the current, move across it.
- Swim parallel to the shore for about 30 - 40m until you reach the breaking wave zone, then swim back to shore or signal for help.
- Remember to stay calm and conserve your energy.