Updated: Aug 10, 2021
What are Rip Currents?
Rips are strong currents running out to sea, they usually formed when there is a build up of water on the beach from wind, tide and waves. They tend to flow from the shoreline back out to sea, they can take you far out to sea and fast. Rips can also form near estuaries, river mouths and man-made structures like groynes and piers.
There are three parts to a rip current:
The feeder current: Buildup water flows along the shoreline until it finds the easiest path back out to sea
The neck: Easiest path for the water to flow back out to sea, could be formed by the shape of the sea bed. The current is at its strongest here
The head: Where the buildup water from the shoreline disperses back into the sea
How to identify a rip:
1. Debris on the surface of the sea floating away from the shoreline.
2. Sand, seaweed or other items from the seabed churning.
3. Lack of waves or breaking waves.
4. Waves may break on either side of a channel.
5. River of 'foam'
6. Difference in colour - opaque, cloudy, muddy
Rip currents are not ‘fixed’ in place, a rip may change position from one hour to the next. A flash rip is caused by a sudden buildup of water on the shoreline, these happen quickly and can catch swimmers off guard.
How to escape a rip:
1. Stay calm and conserve your energy. Don’t fight with the current
2. Think clearly. Try and swim adjacent to the shoreline
3. Once out of the rip current swim directly towards the shoreline
4. If you can not swim out of the rip current, calmly float or tread water
5. If you are struggling remember to keep calm, face the shore and signal for help by raising one arm