WARMER weather is on its way, meaning more and more people will start to converge on Mid North Coast beaches in the coming weeks.
It has triggered a timely reminder about the dangers of a rip.
Surprisingly, more people drown in rips each year than deaths from shark attacks, floods and cyclones combined.
In a bid to combat the ongoing issue of drowning deaths along the Australian coastline, Surf Life Saving Australia has launched a sobering safety campaign highlighting the serious dangers of rip currents.
According to figures, it’s young men who are most at risk of losing their lives.
‘The Facts about Rip Currents’ campaign will bust some common myths associated with beach safety and will run across national television, radio, newspapers, outdoor, online and mobile media ahead of summer.
These myths include the perception that it’s only tourists who get caught in rips, that rips only take the lives of poor swimmers, or that competent swimmers know how to spot a rip.
In fact, according to research only 15 percent of people who drown in rips are international visitors.
It’s young men aged 15-39 years who are most likely to get caught and die in rips, and two out of three people who think they can identify a rip can’t.
“The main point is to always look for the red and yellow flags if you’re going to the beach,” said head Port Macquarie Hastings lifeguard James Turnham.
“If you’re at a beach with no flags then it is best not to swim as there is no one where keeping an eye on things. Even confident swimmers can get caught in a rip.”
At the moment, only Town Beach and Flynns Beach are patrolled every day.
From Wednesday December 21 to Sunday January 29, the Christmas Holiday period, six beaches in the area will be patrolled daily.
Town Beach and Flynns Beach will be patrolled from 9am to 6pm, and Lighthouse Beach, Lake Cathie, Bonny Hills and North Haven beaches are patrolled from 9am to 5pm.
Mr Turnham said it isn’t just rip awareness that people need to worry about.
“It is important to obey signage that lifeguards put out. They aren’t erected for no reason, they are there to warn people of significant dangers,” he said.
“You see a lot of people come down to the beach and walk straight past signs.
“An example I see often is one that warns of no guards at a certain area of the beach with dangerous conditions, but they still go in for a swim.
“It’s reckless and quite dangerous. It also takes the lifeguard’s eyes off where they should be.”
Surf Life Saving Australia’s clear message this summer is: Don’t Risk the Rip.
Visit www.beachsafe.org.au to find out more. People can also download the Beach Safe app to check on patrolled beaches and conditions.
It also has all the weather warnings, wind direction and surf conditions.
Be aware and informed by watching these videos from Surf Life Saving Australia.