Coastal Safety Brief - Rip Currents 2020

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COA S TAL SAFE T Y BRIE F RIP CURRE NT S S U R F L I FE S AV I N G AU S T R A L I A


RIP CURRENTS SNAPSHOT 2004 - 2020

4

ANALYSIS

EXTERNAL TERRITORIES

An average of 21 people die each year due to rip currents in Australia, with a total of 341 deaths recorded. Nine people died after having a medical episode in the water, but the majority died due to drowning (n = 332).

AVERAGE DEATHS PER YEAR

4 32

AVERAGE FATALITY RATE

0.09

21

61 24 163

PER 100,000 POPULATION

42 11

KEY DEMOGRAPHICS MALE

AVERAGE AGE

87%

37

LOCATION 3% 2% 7%

SWIMMING

DROWNING

OTHER

& WADING

DEATHS

FATALITIES

67% 332 9

1%

87%

87%

Beach

Beach Rock/Cliff Bay Offshore Other

AUSTRALIAN-BORN

86%

Number (n) Rate per 100,000 pop.

0.15 0.13

AUSTRALIAN

0.11

80%

0.10

0.10

0.11

0.11

0.07

0.10 0.09

0.10 0.07

0.06

0.09 0.06

0.06

2

15

26

22

14

25

22

16

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2008-09

26

2016-17

2007-08

24

2015-16

2006-07

15

2014-15

2005-06

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

21

2013-14

16

2012-13

21

2011-12

27

2010-11

20

2009-10

31 2004-05

RESIDENTS

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


INTRODUCTION

R

ip currents are strong, narrow, and often channelised currents of water that initiate close to the shoreline of ocean beaches and flow offshore through the surf zone and varying distances beyond. They are common features on Australian beaches with an estimated 17,000 rips occurring on any given day around the coast. While it is therefore not surprising that rip currents are a significant contributor to coastal drowning deaths, many people would be surprised to know that in a typical year, rip currents account for more deaths in Australia than sharks, floods and cyclones combined1. The Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey 2020 revealed that there are 9.7 million Australian adults who go swimming and wading at the coast. Of the 1,795 drowning deaths over the last 16 years (2004–2020), 25% can be attributed to being caught in a rip current. There were 341 rip-current-related deaths between 2004–20 on the Australian coast, 332 of which were due to drowning. This equates to an average of 21 rip-related deaths per year. Most of these deaths occurred while swimming or wading, predominantly at unpatrolled locations more than 1 km away from a surf lifesaving service. Young males aged 15-34 are highly represented in the drowning statistics2 and are a key target group for drowning prevention, including rip-current-related interventions. This demographic

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comprises a quarter (25%, n=495) of all coastal drowning deaths, but represents almost half (42%, n=143) of rip currentrelated deaths. Swimming, wading and recreating at the beach are at the core of Australian culture. However, while rip currents are generally considered extremely hazardous by Australians (p. 9), 48% of selfrated frequent swimmers perceive swimming to be a ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ hazardous activity (p. 9). As a result, many beachgoers may not feel the need to access safety information despite one in four Australians not knowing how to identify a rip current (p. 10). Public messages regarding rip current safety need to not only reach swimmers and all beachgoers, but challenge their beliefs regarding beach safety. Surf Life Saving Australia has created a national rip current safety campaign that aims to increase awareness of the rip current hazard and influence risky behaviour, particularly in young men. The campaign was launched in 2016 and over a five-year period has been delivering key messages and strategies for beachgoers to identify and avoid rip currents, as well as understand what to do should they get into trouble. The ‘next steps’ for rip current safety involve evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign and the key messages to find out the most effective approaches for educating beachgoers about the rip current hazard and reducing the occurrence of riprelated deaths in the future.

1

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


L O C AT I O N BL ACKSP0TS

INSET: Indian Ocean Territories (Inset is same scale as main map)

BLACKSPOTS

3

Christmas Island

A blackspot is an area where a concentration of incidents is recorded and has a high probability/risk of ongoing reoccurrence. These areas have recorded the highest numbers of rip-related deaths since 2004. NSW Byron Coffs Harbour Central Coast Shoalhaven Wollongong Port Macquarie-Hastings Ballina Tweed Northern Beaches Kempsey VIC Surf Coast Bass Coast Mornington Peninsula QLD Gold Coast Sunshine Coast SA Victor Harbor

20 18 14 13 12 10 9 8 6 6

4 Christmas Island to Port Hedland approx. 1,800 km

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Key to Drowning Activity

Attempting a Rescue Boating and PWC

32

Fall Jump Land-based Fishing Other Rock Fishing Scuba Diving Snorkelling

7 7 6

Swimming/Wading

2

Unknown

2

4

28 16

Multiple instances per activity at the same location Capital city 3

7

0

1,000km

SCALE

PERTH

Watercraft

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


DARWIN 2

4 61

2

4

2 5 2

24

3

BRISBANE

2

3 23 7 16 2 8 2

12 3 2

1 2

163

2 4 2 7 2 4 3 10 3 2

2

ADELAIDE

6 11 2

2 3

SYDNEY 4 2

CANBERRA

MELBOURNE

9 5

2 3

4 4 4 2 5

42

2

3

6

2 4

HOBART

11

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3

2

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S RIP CURRENTS 20 0 4 -20

WHY

19%

16%

AFFECTED BY ALCOHOL/DRUGS

DUE TO MEDICAL INCIDENT

13%

ATTEMPTING A RESCUE

WHERE

86%

55%

AT A BEACH LOCATION

GREATER THAN 1KM FROM SURF LIFESAVING SERVICE

WHEN

61%

LIVED MORE THAT 50KM FROM INCIDENT LOCATION

2020 SUMMER

70%

53%

55%

AFTERNOON (12-6PM)

DECEMBER - FEBRUARY

COULD TOUCH THE BOTTOM WHEN THEY GOT CAUGHT IN A RIP

61%

80%

41%

WHO

SWIMMERS/WADERS

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS

RESCUED BY A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC

NB: Analyses include known cases only

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S RIP CURRENTS 20 0 4 -20

AGE & GENDER

2004 – 2020 RESCUED BY

87%

4% 6%

41%

MALE

20%

13%

RESCUED BY A MEMBER OF PUBLIC

FEMALE

29%

AGED 20-29 YEARS

1%

19%

Member of Public Lifeguard/Surf Lifesaver Emergency Services Family/Friend Body Not Recovered Other

28%

37

AGED 30-39 YEARS

41%

AVERAGE AGE

2004 – 2020 ACTIVITY 60% 4% 4%6%

50% 40% Percentage

1% 2% 1%

8% 20%

30% 13%

67% SWIMMING

RESCUED BY

41% 67%

/WADING

20% 10%

28%

0 <1km >5km 1-5km Distance to Surf Lifesaving Service

Swimming/Wading Attempting a Rescue Watercraft Snorkelling Falls & Jumps Rock Fishing Boating & PWC Scuba Diving Land-based Fishing Other

2004 – 2020 OBSERVED DEPTH AT TIME OF INCIDENT

DEPTH AT TIME OF INCIDENT COULD TOUCH THE BOTTOM

55% 45%

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5

DEPTH AT TIME OF INCIDENT

OVERHEAD

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S RIP CURRENTS 20 0 4 -20

AGE & GENDER 60 50

8

1

0

0

9 - 10 pm

10 - 11 pm

11 - 12 am

8 - 9 pm

7 - 8 pm

6 - 7 pm

5 - 6 pm

4 - 5 pm

3 - 4 pm

2 - 3 pm

1 - 2 pm

12 - 1 pm

5 - 6 am

4 10 - 11 am

4 - 5 am

3

11 - 12 pm

1

8 - 9 am

0

6

9 - 10 am

1

70-74

65-69

60-64

55-59

50-54

45-49

40-44

35-39

25-29

20-24

15-19

17 10

7

7 - 8 am

2

6 - 7 am

1

3 - 4 am

12 - 1 am

0

2 - 3 am

7

3

3

1

RIP CURRENT DEATHS BY TIME (N=328*)

15 15

1 - 2 am

10

7

37

30

9

19 10

10-14

0-4

39

20

18

TIME

34

32

24

11

44

43

21

0

0

40

23

20 10

50

31

85+

27

80-84

35

30

75-79

40

5-9

Number (n)

20-29 year olds account for 29% of riprelated deaths (n=100), most of which were due to drowning (n=97). The mortality rate for this age bracket is 0.19 per 100,000 population, more than double the 16-year average (0.09 per 100,000 population).

47

30-34

RIP CURRENTS DEATHS BY AGE AND GENDER (N=341)

Male Female

53

Most rip-related deaths occurred in the afternoon between 12-6pm (70%, n=229). *Time was known for 96% of cases. Four per cent (n=13) occurred at unknown times and were excluded from analyses.

MONTH 79

RIP CURRENT DEATHS BY MONTH (N=341) Most rip-related deaths (53%, n=180) occurred over the summer months (DecFeb). Shading denotes seasons.

55

37 21 9 JUL

54 46

5 AUG

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21

8 SEP

6 OCT

6

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS

APR

MAY

0 JUN


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S RIP CURRENTS 20 0 4 -20

DAY 80 70 60 Number (n)

RIP CURRENT DEATHS BY DAY (N=333*) Most rip-related deaths occurred on the weekend (44%, n=148). *Day was known for 98% of cases. Two per cent (n=8) occurred on unknown days and were excluded from analyses.

50 40 30 20 10 0

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

REMOTENESS 37% RIP CURRENT DEATHS BY REMOTENESS (N=341) Over half of rip-related deaths occurred in regional locations (54%, n=184) , while thirty-seven per cent occurred within major cities (n=127).

40% 14% <1

%

OFFSHORE

6%

MAJOR CITIES

INNER-REGIONAL

OUTER-REGIONAL

2%

REMOTE

VERY REMOTE

BIRTH CONTINENT RIP CURRENT DEATHS BY CONTINENT OF BIRTH (N=334)

2%

Australian-born individuals account for 86% (n=287) of riprelated deaths. *Birth continent was known for 98% of cases. Two per cent (n=7) were unknown and excluded from analyses.

8%

North America

Europe

3% Asia

0.5% Africa

0.5%

Latin America

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS

Oceania

86%

Australia


P A R T I C I P AT I O N P R O F I L E HA Z ARD PERCEPTION

80

9.7M

COASTAL SWIMMERS/ WADERS

HOURS

14.1M

PER FREQUENT SWIMMER/WADER PER YEAR

AUSTRALIAN ADULTS VISITED THE COAST IN 2019/20

Patrolled beach during patrol hours only

60

%

54

%

48%

43% Patrolled beach, but not always during patrolled hours

56%

26% Unpatrolled beach 22%

53%

Coastal pools 6%

48% 54%

Can't say 3% 0

NCSS2020: SWIMMING/WADING PARTICIPATION BY STATE

21%

25%

56% 62%

21% 11% 3%

2% Advanced Intermediate

Beginner Can’t say

10

20

Percentage

30

40

50

NCSS2014-20: USUAL SWIMMING LOCATION

Avoid swimming or wading under the influence of alcohol/drugs Follow the advice of the surf lifesaver or lifeguard when you are on a patrolled beach Check for and obey safety signs posted on the beach Between the red and yellow flags at patrolled beach Look for rip currents prior to entering the water Patrolled beach during patrol times Always With at least one other Most of the time person you know Sometimes Check surf conditions with Never authoritative source Can’t say 0%

20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

NCSS2020: SWIMMING ABILITY OF COASTAL SWIMMERS AND WADERS

NCSS2020: WHICH SAFETY PRACTICES DO YOU FOLLOW WHEN YOU GO SWIMMING/WADING?

More male swimmers rate their swimming ability as intermediate or advanced (87%) compared to females (77%).

Seventy per cent avoid swimming or wading under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


P A R T I C I P AT I O N P R O F I L E HA Z ARD PERCEPTION

19%

OF PEOPLE THINK IT IS REASONABLE TO CONSUME 1 OR 2 STANDARD ALCOHOLIC DRINKS BEFORE SWIMMING/ WADING

3% 1% 2% 19%

NCSS2020: HOW MANY STANDARD ALCOHOLIC DRINKS DO YOU THINK ARE REASONABLE TO CONSUME BEFORE UNDERTAKING THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES?

None/0 alcoholic drink 1 or 2 standard alcoholic drinks 3 or 4 standard alcoholic drinks 5 or more standard alcoholic drinks Can't say

75%

Rip currents

NCSS2014-20: PERCEPTION OF COASTAL HAZARDS BY SWIMMING/ WADING PARTICIPANTS

Tropical marine stingers Sun exposure Rocks/Rocky platform Sharks Crocodiles Other marine stinger creatures such as bluebottles

Extremely hazardous or Very hazardous Somewhat hazardous Not very or Not at all hazardous Can’t say

Waves 0%

20%

40%

38

40%

Percentage

OF FREQUENT SWIMMERS/ WADERS BELIEVE SWIMMING IS SOMEWHAT/VERY HAZARDOUS

Occasional Frequent

36

20%

0%

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12

10

8

7 4

100%

30

30%

10%

NCSS2020: HAZARD PERCEPTION OF SWIMMING/WADING BY FREQUENT VS OCCASIONAL PARTICIPANTS

80%

48

50%

48%

60%

2

1

Extremely hazardous

Very hazardous

9

Somewhat hazardous

Not very hazardous

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS

Not at all hazardous

1

Can't say


P A R T I C I P AT I O N P R O F I L E SAFET Y PR ACTICES

8%

16%

3%

10%

48% ALWAYS LOOK

6%

25%

ARE LIKELY TO RESCUE SOMEONE FROM A RIP 43%

48%

FOR A RIP

Always Most of the time Sometimes Never Can't say

25%

22%

NCSS2020: HOW OFTEN DO SWIMMERS/WADERS LOOK FOR RIP CURRENTS BEFORE ENTERING THE WATER?

24% 14%

Lazy/don't pay attention/forget

13%

I don't go far in the ocean 8%

I swim between the flags I am a good swimmer

6%

I know the beach well/I know where the rips are

6% 5%

No rips on my beach/where I go 4%

Calm water/no surf I swim where other people swim

3%

Don't care/can't be bothered

3%

Depends upon the sea/water conditions

2%

Rely on rips signs on the beach

2%

Sometimes rips are hard to identify

2%

24%

OF PEOPLE CAN’T IDENTIFY A RIP

1% 12%

Can't say 0%

5%

10%

15%

20%

25%

Percentage

NCSS2020: REASONS BEACHGOERS DON’T ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE PRESENCE OF RIP CURRENTS

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Very likely Somewhat likely Somewhat unlikely Very unlikely Can't say

NCSS2016-20: HOW LIKELY ARE BEACHGOERS TO RESCUE SOMEONE WHO IS CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT?

Don't know what to look for/can't identify a rip

Other

19%

10

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


P A R T I C I P AT I O N P R O F I L E HA Z ARD PERCEPTION

5% 20%

5% 33%

4.2M

27% 31%

78%

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT

35% 25%

13% 6%

22%

Very confident Somewhat confident Not very confident Not at all confident Can’t say

YES

NCSS2014-16 CONFIDENCE OF MALE AND FEMALE BEACHGOERS IN IDENTIFYING RIP CURRENTS

Occasional Frequent

NO

NCSS2016-20: AUSTRALIAN ADULTS WHO HAVE BEEN CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT

40%

40%

38%

35%

33% 31% 29%

Percentage

30%

29%

25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Both correct

One correct

None correct

NCSS2020: RIP IDENTIFICATION BY FREQUENT VS OCCASIONAL SWIMMERS/WADERS Survey participants were asked to identify a rip in two different images. Of the people who said they were frequent swimmers/waders 31% could correctly identifying the rip in both images, compared to 29% of occasional swimmers/waders. More of the occasional swimmers/ waders (38%) were incorrect both times, compared to frequent swimmers/waders (29%).

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


P A R T I C I P AT I O N P R O F I L E S A F E T Y I N F O R M AT I O N

69% 70%

Lifeguards / surf lifesavers 39%

Coast guards

44% 38% 38%

Bureau of Meteorology 32%

Coastalwatch

36% 26%

Weatherzone

23%

State government maritime agency

19% 17%

Local council

70%

OF MEN AND WOMEN TURN TO LIFEGUARDS/SURF LIFESAVERS FOR COASTAL SAFETY INFORMATION

17% 15%

Beachsafe

18%

Marine rescue organisation

14%

Activity Clubs /Schools

14%

17%

4% 3%

Swellnet

Other

69%

22% 15%

Male Female

0% 1% 0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

NCSS2020: WHICH AUTHORITY WOULD YOU TURN TO FOR COASTAL SAFETY INFORMATION? Lifeguards and surf lifesavers are the most relied upon source for coastal safety information.

53%

Online 18%

TV Using an app on smartphone/tablet

53%

15% 12%

Radio

OF PEOPLE SEEK COASTAL SAFETY INFORMATION ONLINE

8%

Newspaper Magazine

2%

Regular email newsletter

2%

Other

3%

None of these /can't say

29% 0%

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

NCSS2017-20: WHERE DO YOU USUALLY SEEK INFORMATION REGARDING COASTAL SAFETY?

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


C O M M U N I C AT I O N S

S

urf Life Saving Australia implemented a five-year coastal safety campaign addressing rip current drowning which kicked off in 2016. The first two years of the campaign focussed on busting some of the common misconceptions about rips, with the aim to create better awareness about rips. ‘The Facts About Rips Campaign’ challenged swimmer beliefs when it comes to their understanding of rips, their ability to identify a rip, their knowledge of what to do if caught in a rip and ultimately providing guidance on how to swim safe at the beach.

Phase 2, ‘The Think Line Campaign’ introduced the concept of a line in the sand where swimmers stop to check for rips before entering the water. Phase 2, years three to five, aims to influence the behaviours of beachgoers by urging them to always check for rips before entering the water. This phase of the campaign will continue to target young men as well as the wider community. The concept is applicable to other safety messages by encouraging coastal visitors to STOP. LOOK. PLAN:

Key facts include: • Rips are the #1 swimming hazard on Australia’s beaches, with an average of 21 people drowning per year as a result

Stop. To check for rips Look. For other dangers Plan. How to stay safe

• 2 out of 3 people who said they could spot a rip, could not • Only 12% swimmers are very confident they could escape a rip without assistance • 55% of people who drowned in a rip current could stand or touch the bottom when they were caught in the current. Some people continue to swim outside the flags for a variety of reasons (unpatrolled beach, outside patrol hours, etc). • Over 4.2M Australians report they have been unintentionally caught in a rip current.

Swim between the flags. If there’s no flags, only enter the water if you can do so safely, considering things like: • not swimming alone • knowing what to do if caught in a rip • observing safety signs • checking conditions • Learn more about rips and other beach safety tips at www.beachsafe.org.au

Successful outcomes of the first two years included an increased ability for people to correctly identify a rip, decreased over confidence of rip identification, as well as an increased awareness that coastal swimming can be hazardous. Based on the outcomes of this first phase, the second phase of the campaign was developed. Phase 2 aims to influence the behaviours of swimmers going to the beach and maintain awareness from Phase 1.

Draw the line on Rips. Stop. Look. Plan. Thousands of people are caught in rips every year, and too many of them drown. Before you cross the line, STOP to check for rips. LOOK for other dangers. PLAN how to stay safe.

beachsafe.org.au #dontrisktherip

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


F E AT U R E : F ATA L B Y S TA N D E R R E S C U E S

A

ustralians and overseas visitors love the beach, but beaches can be hazardous environments. Too often a visit to the beach can result in someone finding themselves in trouble in the ocean and needing to be rescued. While surf lifesavers and lifeguards perform rescues as part of their patrols, they cannot be at all beach locations at all times. In the absence of surf lifesaving services, it is often bystanders - members of the public - who represent the only form of assistance to those in distress, and perform many rescues, providing a significant and valuable service to the community. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the bystander themselves to drown while attempting a rescue in the ocean. A recent study by Surf Life Saving Australia3 has found that since 2004, there have been 67 coastal deaths (65 due to drowning) of bystanders attempting to rescue someone in the ocean, an average of 5 per year. Most rescuers were male, aged between 30-44 years old and were rescuing family or a loved one, usually a child aged under 18, who had been swimming before they got into trouble. The majority of rescues occurred in the afternoon, on weekends, over summer, and at regional beaches more than 1 km from a surf lifesaving service. Rip currents were a significant factor in three out of four of these incidents (73%), and were associated with almost all incidents that occurred at a beach (93%). The overwhelming majority of bystander rescuer victims (97%, n=65) did not use a flotation device when conducting their rescue. Providing a flotation device to a drowning victim has been identified as a priority intervention that interrupts the drowning process and is crucial for mitigating effects on rescuer safety. In the SLS study, only two rescue incidents involved the use of a flotation device, both of which were conducted by (off duty) volunteer surf lifesavers with significant levels of water safety training. Future bystander safety intervention approaches should target males, parents and carers visiting beach locations in regional locations during holiday times and should emphasise the importance of flotation devices when enacting a rescue and further educating visitors about the rip current hazard. Nobody plans to get into trouble, however too many people drown while enjoying our coast each year. SLSA are asking everyone to adopt a STOP, LOOK, and PLAN approach, as understanding the situation around you could save your life.

If you find yourself in a situation where you may be a bystander rescuer, don’t rush in. Take a moment to STOP, LOOK and PLAN what you should do. Depending on the situation you could: • Call for help (000) • Seek assistance from others, such as surfers • Avoid a contact rescue where possible – try a ‘noncontact’ rescue if you can and throw them something that floats or give them calm instructions how to get back to safety • If you must enter the water, always take a flotation device with you (e.g. boogieboard, angel ring, esky lid) • Learn how to provide CPR • Supervise children on, in and around water • Keep young children within arms reach • Where possible, swim between the red and yellow flags

This article has been adapted from Lawes JC, Rijksen EJ, Brander RW, Franklin RC, & Daw S. (2020). Dying to help: Fatal bystander rescues in Australian coastal environments. PLOS ONE, 15(9), e0238317. Available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/comments?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0238317

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


67

BYSTANDER RESCUE DEATHS

73%

97%

DID NOT TAKE A FLOTATION DEVICE

WERE RIP RELATED

64% AT A BEACH

81% MALES 62%

AT REGIONAL AREAS

78%

OCCURRED GREATER THAN 1KM FROM A SURF LIFESAVING SERVICE

70%

SWIMMING/WADING

OFFSHORE

MAJOR CITIES

69%

INNERREGIONAL

OUTERREGIONAL

REMOTE

72%

WERE RESCUING FAMILY

VERY REMOTE

36%

OCCURRED IN THE AFTERNOON

30-44 YEAR OLDS

49% WEEKEND

49% NSW

64%

45%

RESCUEES WERE UNDER 18 YEARS OLD

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

SUMMER

15

88%

AUSTRALIAN-BORN

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


REFERENCES

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTRALIA NATIONAL COASTAL SAFETY REPORT 2020 The Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Report (NCSR) is published annually and contains information on Australian community behaviours and attitudes to the coast; SLS capability and membership capacity; rescues and emergency response; and coastal drowning deaths. The NCSR2020 presents statistics from the period of 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. Trend analyses from all coastal deaths (drowning deaths and other fatalities) that have occurred between 1 July 2004 – 31 June 20 to explore causal factors over time are also included. All care is taken to ensure the statistical information included within this report is correct. However, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations and as SLS state/territory entities update their operational information, this data may be amended over time. Data correct at 31 August 2020. Changes may occur at a later date. SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTRALIA NATIONAL COASTAL SAFETY SURVEYS The annual Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys (NCSS) collect Information about community swimming ability, behaviours and attitudes to coastal safety. The survey is conducted by Newspoll Market Research and Omnipoll and is run online over a four-day period each April among a national sample of approximately 1,400 respondents aged 16 and older. The study is carried out in compliance with ISO 20252 - Market, Social and Opinion Research. To reflect the population distribution, results were post-weighted (by age, gender, geographic strata and education) and projected to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. The data presented in the 2020 Coastal Safety Brief: Rip Currents has been derived from data extracted from multiple surveys, including Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020). Newspoll/Omnipoll Online Omnibus April 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. Data illustrated in figures may not always add up to 100% due to rounding.

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REFERENCES 1 Brander R, Dominey-Howes D, Champion C, Vecchio OD, & Brighton B (2013). Brief Communication: A new perspective on the Australian rip current hazard. Natural hazards and earth system sciences, 13(6), 1687-1690. 2 Lawes JC, Ellis A, Daw S & Strasiotto L (2020) Risky business: a 15-year analysis of fatal coastal drowning of young male adults in Australia. Injury Prevention Published Online First: 25 November 2020. doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2020-043969 3 Lawes JC, Rijksen EJ, Brander RW, Franklin RC, & Daw S. (2020). Dying to help: Fatal bystander rescues in Australian coastal environments. PLOS ONE, 15(9), e0238317. © 2020 Surf Life Saving Australia This publication is copyright. Except as expressly provided in the Copyright Act 1968 and the Copyright Amendment Act 2006, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval systems or transmitted by any means (including electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without prior permission from Surf Life Saving Australia. For enquiries concerning reproduction, contact SLSA on: phone 02 9215 8000; email: info@slsa.asn.au Every attempt has been made to trace and acknowledge copyright, but in some cases this may not have been possible. Surf Life Saving Australia apologises for any accidental infringements and would welcome any information to redress the situation. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Surf Life Saving Australia wishes to thank Frederic Anne (Omnipoll) for his contribution to this report and Melissa Conchar for design. SUGGESTED CITATION Cooney N, Daw S, Brander R, Ellis A & Lawes J (2020) Coastal Safety Brief: Rip Currents. Surf Life Saving Australia: Sydney.

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


YOU CAN SURVIVE A

BY KNOWING YOUR OPTIONS

ESCAPE

E CURR

NT

ESCAPE

RIP CURRENT

CURR

E NT

AVOID RIP CURRENTS SWIM BETWEEN THE RED AND YELLOW FLAGS IF YOU’RE CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT, STAY CALM, CONSERVE YOUR ENERGY AND CONSIDER THESE OPTIONS: RAISE AN ARM AND CALL OUT TO SEEK HELP.

FLOAT WITH THE CURRENT. IT MAY RETURN YOU TO A SHALLOW SANDBANK.

SWIM PARALLEL TO THE BEACH. YOU MAY ESCAPE THE RIP CURRENT.

REASSESS THE SITUATION IF WHAT YOU’RE DOING ISN’T WORKING, TRY ANOTHER OPTION UNTIL YOU RETURN TO SHORE.

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS

WWW.BEACHSAFE.ORG.AU


Draw the line on Rips.

#dontrisktherip

Stop. Look. Plan. Thousands of people are caught in rips every year, and too many of them drown. Before you cross the line, STOP to check for rips. LOOK for other dangers. PLAN how to stay safe.

Draw the line at beachsafe.org.au