Surf Safety Tips from APOLA
Swim between the red and yellow flags which indicate the supervised swimming area - No Flags = No Swim
Look for, read and obey water safety signs (some signs below)
Check swimming conditions and water depth before swimming - never dive head first
Swim under supervision or swim with a mate - never go in alone
Never swim directly after eating or under the influence of drugs including alcohol
Learn how to recognise rips and keep clear of these areas - if caught in a rip stay calm, float with the current, call out HELP and wave an arm to gain attention of nearby surfers or lifeguards
Slip, Slop Slap… always use sunscreen to protect exposed skin, put on a shirt, wear sunglasses and a hat when not swimming and drink plenty of water
What is a rip? (see picture above)
A rip is a seaward-moving water current. After waves have broken and run shorewards the accumulated water then moves seaward through a pathway of least resistance which usually is a channel called a rip. Rips are the cause of numerous tragedies or near drowning.
Rips occur whenever there is wave activity at beaches, in and around rocks, breakwalls or any permanent fixture in the ocean. The larger the waves, the stronger and larger are the rips. Most seaward-running rips usually stop running not to far beyond the area where waves break unless it is very high surf.
How to get out of a rip?
Cross currents can cause people to be washed sideways away from swimming areas which typically are located where waves break on sandbars. Staying calm is essential. Saving energy in not swimming directly against the rip is important. Strong swimmers however, if the rip isn't too strong can swim at an angle across the rip to escape the seaward current. At beaches where the swimming area is identified with red and yellow flags it is best to request assistance if caught in a rip by waving an arm and calling out for help. Floating and conserving energy is important until help arrives. Struggling against a rip is a quick way to exhaustion that can lead to panic and tragedy.
Some important signs:
For more tips and advise on beach signs go to: http://www.apola.asn.au/safety.htm#BEACH__SURF_
Tips courtesy of APOLA (Australian Professional Oceangoing Lifeguard Assoc)