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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


R INPAT CU I ORN RA E LN TO V SN E RAVP ISEHWO T 2 0 0 4 -1 8

ANALYSIS On average 19 people drown per year as a result of rip currents in Australia. It’s the highest number of deaths for an individual hazard or activity.

4

RANK

1ST 0.08

AVERAGE DEATHS PER YEAR

49

21 19

127

AVERAGE FATALITY RATE

19

32 10

PER 100,000 POPULATION

LOCATION 5%

KEY DEMOGRAPHIC MEN AGED

3% 1%

1%

15-39

Australian residents Australian born & Overseas born

90%

MALE

FATALITIES

Beach

Beach Rock/Cliff Bay Jetty Offshore

90%

AVERAGE AGE

262 86% 36

0.15

Rate per 100,000 pop. Total drowning deaths 0.12 0.10

0.09

0.09

0.09

0.08

0.09

0.08 0.06

0.07 0.06

0.06

0.04

30

19

25

21

14

20

13

21

18

13

20

21

10

17

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR SECTION ALIA

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS SECTION NAME COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


RIP CURRENTS IN AUSTR ALIA

Rip currents are the number one hazard at the Australian coast and there are more than 17,000 rips in Australia on any given day. A rip current is a narrow seaward flowing current of water moving through the surf zone. Rip currents are a significant contributor to coastal drowning deaths and account for more deaths per year than sharks, floods and cyclones combined1. The Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey 20182 revealed that there are 10 million Australian adults who go swimming and wading at the coast, and 3.5 million are frequent participants. Furthermore, 25% of swimmers say they have been caught in a rip unintentionally. There were 262 rip-current-related drowning deaths between 2004–18 on the Australian coast, which is an average of 19 per year3. Most of these deaths occurred while swimming or wading, predominantly at unpatrolled locations or at patrolled locations outside of patrol hours. Young males aged 15-39 are highly represented in the drowning statistics and are a key target group for rip-current-related interventions. This demographic comprises almost one third (35%) of coastal drowning deaths and represent more than half (51%) of rip current related fatalities. The Ipsos Social Research Institute Swimming and Wading Report 2016 highlighted that swimming at the beach is a core part of Australian culture. It is primarily about fun and relaxation. As a result, swimmers typically do not feel that they need safety information and they do not seek it out. Communications regarding rip safety need to be pushed to swimmers and other coastal participants, and need to 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 behaviours, particularly in young men. The campaign was launched in 2016 and over a five-year period will deliver key messages and strategies for beachgoers to identify and avoid rip currents.

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


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L O C AT I O N

DARWIN

2004-2018

RIP CURRENT DROWNING DEATHS BY STATE (n=262)

Key to Drowning Activity

2

21 (8%)

PERTH

14 4

RIP CURRENT BLACKSPOTS

NSW

QLD

Byron Shire (16) Central Coast Council (15) City of Coffs Harbour (12) City of Shoalhaven (11) City of Wollongong (10) Ballina Shire (7) Tweed Shire (7) Eurobodalla Shire (6)

City of Gold Coast (25) Sunshine Coast Council (13)

VIC Mornington Peninsula Shire (6) Surf Coast Shire (6)

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


0

1,000km

SCAL E

4 (2%) 49 (19%)

16 BRISBANE

19 (7%)

27

127 (48%) 2

32 3

18

ADELAIDE

SYDNEY CANBERRA

14

27

17

27

2 MELBOURNE

7

32 (12%)

2

22 3

3

HOBART

4

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10 (4%) 5

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -1 8

WHERE

WHEN

WHO

71%

90% AT A BEACH LOCATION

AFTERNOON (12-6PM)

SWIMMERS

15%

51% MORE THAN 1KM FROM A LIFESAVING SERVICE

DECEMBER-FEBRUARY

57% LIVED MORE THAN 50KM FROM DROWNING LOCATION

ATTEMPTING A RESCUE

45% OF KNOWN CASES COULD TOUCH THE BOTTOM WHEN THEY GOT CAUGHT IN A RIP

OF KNOWN CASES WERE RESCUED BY A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

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C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -1 8

WHO

86% MALE

39%

36

20%

AGED 15 - 29

AVERAGE AGE OF DECEASED

AGED 30-39

REGION OF RESIDENCE

RESCUED BY Of known cases 45%

6% 13%

28% 21%

80%

AUSTRALIA

80%

5% 1% Australia International Unknown

Member of the public

ACTIVITY 2% 2% 8%

15%

Other service (incl. police)

Body not recovered

Other

DEPTH AT TIME OF INCIDENT 2%

1% 1%

71%

SWIMMING/ WADING

Lifeguard/ Lifesaver

71%

Swimming/Wading Attempting a Rescue Surfing/Watercraft Rock Fishing Snorkelling Slip/Fall Scuba Diving Other

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44% 56% OVERHEAD

7

COULD TOUCH THE BOTTOM

Reference: National Coastal Safety Report 2018 COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -1 8

AGE

39

39 31

2004-2018

RIP CURRENT DROWNING DEATHS BY AGE (n=262)

23

21 16

17

15

13

11

13 7

6

5

3

3

0

0

0-4

5-9

10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74

TIME

75-79 80-84

85+

38

30 28

2004-2018

27

RIP CURRENT DROWNING DEATHS BY TIME (n=248*)

26 20 13

13

9

10 6

4

1

3

3

2

MONTH

0

11 - 12am

10 - 11pm

9 - 10pm

8 - 9pm

7 - 8pm

6 - 7pm

5 - 6pm

4 - 5pm

3 - 4pm

2 - 3pm

1 - 2pm

12 - 1pm

11 - 12pm

9 - 10am

10 - 11am

8 - 9am

7 - 8am

0

6 - 7am

0

5 - 6am

0

4 - 5am

2

3 - 4am

2

2 - 3am

4

1 - 2am

7

12 - 1am

*Of known times. This is under reporting nighttime deaths. They are usually not recorded until the morning and happen without witnesses. Time would be recorded as 'unknown' and as such not included in the analysis. 5% of cases happened at unknown times.

63

2004-2018

44

40

RIP CURRENT DROWNING DEATHS BY MONTH (n=262)

30 17

14 9

July

5 August

29

7

4

September October November December

January

February

March

April

May

0 June

Reference: National Coastal Safety Report 2018

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

COASTAL SWIMMERS/WADERS

COASTAL VISITATIONS IN AUSTRALIA ANNUALLY

2015-2018 USUAL SWIMMING/WADING LOCATION

2018 AUSTRALIAN ADULTS WHO HAVE BEEN CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT Yes No

3%

6%

19%

23%

42%

19% Adults have

42% Patrolled beach during patrol hours only Patrolled beach, but not always during patrolled hours Unpatrolled beach Coastal pools Can't say

PATROLLED BEACH 26%

81%

been caught in a Rip

2016-2018 REASONS SWIMMERS/WADERS DON’T ALWAYS GO TO A PATROLLED LOCATION I like secluded/quiet beaches I like to visit other beaches that are unpatrolled Can't say

4M

2% 4%

AUSTRALIANS SAY THEY HAVE BEEN CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT UNINTENTIONALLY

5%

I feel safe where I go

6%

Other

6%

I am a good/confident swimmer

6%

I don't go far in to the ocean

6%

They are too crowded

11% 25%

There is no patrolled beach close to where I live

32%

I swim outside patrol hours (before/after work)

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-18 (Averages)

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HAZARD PERCEPTION

2014-2018 PERCEPTION OF COASTAL HAZARDS

Can’t say

Not very or not at all hazardous

3%

3% 3%

5%

5% 19%

4% 14%

6% 27%

Extremely or very hazardous

Somewhat hazardous

4%

6%

8%

3%

14%

19%

26%

34%

26%

21%

47%

74% 65%

63%

56%

54%

54% 36%

Rip currents

Sun exposure

Tropical marine stingers

Sharks

Crocodiles

Other marine stinger creatures such as bluebottles

Waves

2015-2018 HAZARD PERCEPTION OF SWIMMING/WADING FREQUENT VS OCCASSIONAL PARTICIPANTS Frequent Occassional

48%

48% 44%

37%

ALMOST HALF OF COASTAL SWIMMERS/ WADERS DON’T BELIEVE IT IS A HAZARDOUS ACTIVITY

15% 8%

Extremely or very hazardous

Somewhat hazardous

Not very or not at all hazardous

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-18 (Averages)

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SAFET Y PR AC TICES

2016-2018 HOW LIKELY ARE BEACHGOERS TO RESCUE SOMEONE WHO IS CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT?

2014-2018 HOW OFTEN DO SWIMMERS/WADERS LOOK FOR RIP CURRENTS BEFORE ENTERING THE WATER?

7%

3%

11%

40%

45%

19%

LOOK FOR RIP CURRENTS ALWAYS

7%

Are very unlikely to rescue someone from 40% a rip current

45%

Always Most of the time Sometimes Never Can’t say

26%

20%

22%

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

2018 REASONS BEACHGOERS DON’T ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE PRESENCE OF RIP CURRENTS I rely on rips signs on the beach

1%

Depends upon the sea/water conditions

2%

I am a good swimmer

2%

Calm water there/no surf

3%

I swim where other people swim

3%

Don't care/can't be bothered

4%

Other

4%

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

5%

No rips on my beach/where I go

5%

Sometimes rips are hard to identify

8% 11%

I swim between the flags

12%

I don't go far in the ocean

17%

Lazy/don't pay attention/forget

29%

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

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-18 (Averages)

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R I P I D E N T I F I C AT I O N

2014-2018 CONFIDENCE OF MALE AND FEMALE BEACHGOERS IN IDENTIFYING RIP CURRENTS Male Female

35% 32%

31%

MALE BEACHGOERS SAY THEY ARE MORE CONFIDENT, COMPARED TO FEMALE BEACHGOERS. HOWEVER, THIS IS GENERALLY OVERCONFIDENCE.

26%

26% 21%

14%

6%

Very confident

5%

Somewhat confident

Not very confident

Not at all confident

4%

Can't say

2017-2018 RIP IDENTIFICATION OF BEACHGOERS THAT SAY THEY ARE CONFIDENT

21%

WHEN TESTED, LESS THAN HALF OF THE BEACHGOERS WHO WERE CONFIDENT COULD CORRECTLY IDENTIFY A RIP 100% OF THE TIME.

21%

COULD NOT IDENTIFY A RIP

47%

32% Correct Half Incorrect

Survey participants were asked to identify a rip in two different images. Of the people who said they were very or somewhat confident, less than half (47%) were correct in identifying the rip in both images. Almost one-third (32%) could identify the rip in one of the images and 21% were incorrect both times.

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-18 (Averages)

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B E H AVI OU R A L FR A M E WO RK FOR KEY AUDIENCES Desired Behaviour Change 1. Learn how to identify rip currents 2. Always check for the presence of rip currents 3. Learn how to escape a rip current 4. Swim between the red and yellow flags CORE BEHAVIOUR

FACTORS

KEY SOURCES OF BEHAVIOUR 4

CAPABILITY (Knowledge and skills) Psychological

• Confidence in their swimming ability, based on: -- previous ‘education’ (including informal guidance from parents) -- a lifetime of experience in the water (despite varied levels) -- surfing experience and ability -- feel safe within the flags, or even just near them, if the lifeguards or lifesavers can see them, or if they are still standing or not going too far out • Many lack clarity regarding rip identification and different escape options (especially without assistance) • Some (e.g. recent migrants) lack detailed understanding of the risks of swimming in the ocean, especially what rips really are and how they work, and the importance of swimming between the flags

55% don’t always look for the presence of rips Physical

4 million Australians have been caught in a rip current unintentionally

58% don’t always swim/wade at patrolled locations, during patrolled hours

MOTIVATION (Brain processes that energise and direct behaviour) Reflective

Automatic

OPPORTUNITY (Factors outside the individual) Physical

Social

• Swimming competence affects level of caution taken and perceived risk • Limited actual experience, and (where tested recently) varied ability, in escaping a rip or treading water in difficult conditions • Desire to relax and have fun makes it harder for ‘safety’ messaging to appeal to or cut through to the target audience • Many assume they are safe enough if others are swimming nearby • Some prefer non-flag areas or unpatrolled beaches for a number of reasons, including: convenience, space and quiet • Behaviour is limited by certain attitudes (e.g. I am experienced, I am already aware of the rules/recommendations, and I can judge a safe spot)

• Safety-related behaviour is somewhat habitual, subconscious • Some (e.g. migrants) haven’t really thought about safety

• Some live or park further away from the flags • Some live further away from patrolled beaches

• There is a strong norm to swim between the flags, for most (although not for some more experienced surfers/swimmers) • Some follow their more experienced friends (e.g. in deciding whether it’s safe enough to go in, or when they swim further out) • Friends aren’t necessarily trusted or seen as experts on rips or ocean survival • Lifeguards/lifesavers are an important source of advice, in situ

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K E Y TA R G E T S

Target Segmentation • Males 15-39 years • Australian and overseas born

WHO ARE THEY?

BEHAVIOUR

HOW DO WE TALK WITH THEM?4

The least confident or least experienced swimmers (including recent migrants)

This group tends to be reasonably cautious, once or if they are aware of the risks

Early awareness is critical among this group. They are relatively easily targeted as they are open to new information

Everyone in the middle

This group think they know enough and are doing enough, but this is not necessarily the case

Communications need to challenge this belief and show swimmers that they are not doing enough to be safe. If it is made clear enough to this group that they lack particular knowledge, they seem to listen

The most confident or experienced swimmers (including surfers)

This group takes more risks and is harder to convince to stay between the flags, as they think they are experienced enough not to need to. They are (or believe they are) better able to identify rips and (if caught) to escape

There is a need to challenge this group’s belief that they are knowledgeable and experienced enough by showing them situations where their knowledge is either lacking or inaccurate

ONCE YOU ARE EXPERIENCED ENOUGH, YOU KNOW HOW TO GET OUT.

I KNOW THERE IS DANGER, BUT I DON’T REALLY THINK ABOUT IT.

IF IT LOOKS CALM, I’LL BE HAPPIER TO STAY AWAY FROM THE FLAGS.

Born overseas, male, 18–24 years old

Born overseas, male, 18–24 years old

Born in Australia, male, 25–34 years old

I AM MORE WORRIED ABOUT BEING BITTEN THAN DROWNING. IN A LARGE SWELL I KNOW I CAN SWIM OUT, BUT I CAN’T FIGHT OFF A SHARK. Born overseas, male, 18–24 years old

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

2016-2020 SLSA COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY: NATIONAL RIP CURRENT CAMPAIGN

YEAR 1

YEAR 2

• State the facts about rips. • Challenge people’s perceptions of rips. • Challenge people’s rip identification knowledge. • Convey the message people don’t know what they think they know. • Sow the seeds of doubt.

AWA R E N E S S

YEAR 3

YEAR 4

YEAR 5

• Take awareness and changed perception to give clear directive of new behaviour that’s catchy and memorable. • Encourage consideration of beach conditions and rip current identification. • Stop. Look. Make a safe plan. • Continue messaging around swimming at patrolled beaches and between the red and yellow flags. • Harder hitting message to impact on behaviour change.

B E H AV I O U R C H A N G E

The first two years of the campaign targeted rip current awareness by addressing common myths and facts. The campaign challenged beachgoer beliefs and confidence related to rips and encouraged them to learn how to identify and escape rip currents.

Years three to five will launch in December 2018 and aims to influence the behaviours of beachgoers, by urging them to always check for rips before entering the water. The second phase of the campaign will continue to target young men as well as the wider community by asking them to:

Awareness Campaign Objectives: 1. Increase the number of people who say they can spot a rip and actually can 2. Increase awareness that people aren’t as competent at spotting a rip as they think they are 3. Increase the number of people who see swimming at the coast as somewhat hazardous

STOP to check for rips. LOOK for other dangers. PLAN how to stay safe.

Draw the line on Rips.

Awareness Campaign Outcomes: 1. Increase of 12% in people who can correctly identify a rip 2. Decrease in over-confidence in rip identification from 43% to 39% 3. Increase of 6% for hazard perception of coastal swimming

#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

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COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS


REFERENCES

Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Report 2018 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 2018 NCSR represents the statistics from the period of 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. Trend analyses from 2004-18 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. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys The annual Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys 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 to 69. The study is carried out in compliance with ISO 20252 - Market, Social and Opinion Research. To reflect the population distribution, results were post-weighted (on age, gender, geographic strata and education) and projected to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. Ipsos Social Research Institute Swimming and Wading Report 2016 The Ipsos Social Research Institute Swimming and Wading Report 2016 was a result of research comprised of two distinct methodological phases: a qualitative research component, followed by a quantitative research component. Both phases covered similar topic areas:

swimming attitudes and behaviours, risk perceptions and strategies, rip current identification and safety, information needs and sources, and interventions. The qualitative research also explored reactions to specific campaign concepts, and the qualitative findings helped to shape the subsequent questionnaire used in the quantitative component. The quantitative research phase was carried out from 6-27 November 2015. This component comprised an online survey of n=1,094 swimmers and waders, followed by comprehensive analysis of the data. Given the geographic spread of the Australian coastline, Ipsos SRI used a representative sample of Australian swimmers and waders, involving the application of non-interlocking quotas according to the following demographic characteristics: gender, age, state, and area. Weighting was then applied to the sample to ensure the representativeness of the data was maintained. Data illustrated in figures may not always add up to 100% due to rounding. References R. Brander, D. Dominey-Howes, C. Champion, O. Del Vecchio, and B. Brighton (2013): “Brief Communication: A new perspective on the Australian rip current hazard” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 13, 1687–1690, 2013. Ipsos Social Research Institute (2016) Swimming and Wading Report 2016. Ipsos: Sydney

Page References 1.

Reference: R. Brander et al. 2013

2.

SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2018

3. 4.

SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2018

Ipsos Social Research Institute Swimming and Wading Report 2016

Data correct at 24 July 2018. Changes may occur at a later date. © 2018 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) and Anika Martin (Graphic Design) for their contribution to this report.

Surf Life Saving Australia (2018) National Coastal Safety Report 2018. SLSA: Sydney. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Newspoll Online Omnibus April 2014 and 2015, and an Omnipoll online panel in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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Suggested Citation Ryan, A., Rijksen, E., Daw, S. (2018) Coastal Safety Brief: Rip Currents. Surf Life Saving Australia: Sydney.

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – RIP CURRENTS

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Coastal Safety Brief - RIP Currents  

Coastal Safety Brief - RIP Currents