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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rip Tides 

If your off to sunny beaches for Christmas, take heed of this helpful article published in The Noosa Journal. They pose the question, Can you spot a rip? And the answer might save your life.

Recognizing and dealing with rip tides is not something that is only of value to surfers, in fact they are more likely to know about rips and local conditions; it is an important skill for anyone venturing into the sea, even just for a paddle.

Rip tides are usually indicated by a darker coloured water, where the water is deeper, but more significantly, sand stirred up off the bottom can make the water a murky brown.

Next, look at the surface of the water and for localised differences in the waves.
Beware of regions with smoother surfaces, having much smaller waves next to white water where the waves are breaking. Waves might be seen breaking further out to sea, on both sides of the rip and any debris floating out to sea is a giveaway.

However, also be on the lookout for areas with ripples on the surface, when the surrounding water is relatively flat and calm.

If you are caught in a rip tide and start to get dragged out don't fight it, just float with the current and signal for assistance; the standard signal is to raise an arm. Confident swimmers can swim parallel to the shore until they reach the breaking wave zone, at which point they can usually get free of the rip and swim back to the shore.

If you cannot do this, concentrate on staying afloat, stay calm, float with the rip and signal for help.

Of course, it is always wise to use patrolled beaches and take advantage of local knowledge. Feel free to send friends a link to this post, telling others about rip tides could save a life.

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