Draw the line on rips

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Everyday Aussies impacted by rip currents have fronted Surf Life Saving Australia's (SLSA's) new summer safety campaign, urging all beach goers to draw a 'Think Line' in the sand.

Rip survivors and those who have lost loved ones, are echoing SLSA's call for swimmers to STOP, LOOK and PLAN, before entering the beach. 

"We want beachgoers to draw a line in the sand, the 'Think Line', and consider your actions before you cross the line," Shane Daw, National Coastal Risk & Safety Manager SLSA said.

"Stop to check for rips, look for other dangers and plan how to stay safe."

With more than 17,000 rip currents on any given day around Australia and three in four Australians unable to spot a rip, Daw says swimmers should exercise caution.  

"Don't rush into the water. Observe the area for potential hazards, learn how to identify rips and where possible swim between the red and yellow flags."

"Rip related drownings and rescues are the number one hazard at the Australian coast.

"On average, at least 19 people drown per year as a result of rip currents, which is a tragedy as rip-related drownings are largely preventable," he said.

One real-life rip current survivor, Samantha Morley, is featured in the new commercial, her cautionary tale a warning for all beachgoers. 

On the Easter Long Weekend of 2017 she was enjoying a day at the beach with her husband Dominic when their two daughters Charley (aged 14) and Josephine (aged 13) suddenly got caught in a rip.

"The kids were just playing on the sand in that little zone where the waves come," Samantha said.

The family were at an unpatrolled beach so they limited the girls from going into the water beyond their knees.

"We thought that would be safe," she said.

Dominic managed to pull Josie out of the rip, but as Samantha pushed Charley to safety she felt herself being sucked out to sea.  Samantha was in the water for more than an hour.

"When I finally saw that big red boat, the knights of the Southern Ocean came out, I thought, I'm going to survive," she said. 

Within 15 minutes of being notified of the emergency, Tony Worton and Phil Traves of the Camden Haven Surf Life Saving Club were in their Inflatable Rescue Boat, charging into the surf.

As soon as they spotted Samantha, they sped to her rescue and plucked her from the sea.

"I spun her around, put my arms up underneath her and hauled her into the boat," Worton said.

"It was a really rough day with consistent swells of between three and four metres. As the next big wave hit she said, 'my kids' and we said, 'your kids are on the shore, they're ok'," he said.   
Samantha hopes the latest SLSA campaign will change attitudes. 

"I want people to stop and think before they enter the water.  When it comes to identifying a rip, you don't know what you think you may know."

Derek Wilson who also features in the campaign has a far more tragic story to tell.  His story includes the loss of life of his two young children and two nieces, all caught in a rip.

The family had headed to the beach for a fun day, without knowing they arrived at the wrong beach and the kids headed into the water to play, where they thought it was safe.  Soon after, all four were in difficulty and caught in the rip current.   Despite the efforts of family and surf lifesavers four young lives were lost on this day, and the lives of many others irreversibly changed forever.

"It is so sad, for something that is so preventable." Derek said.

"Time does not heal, you learn to live with it. It's enough, it's time to draw the line. If you don't know the area, you don't know how to spot a rip, you don't know the risks, you don't know how to spot a rip – don't be there," he said.

Daw said Samantha and Derek's stories are a timely reminder to think before you enter the water.

"Our message to beachgoers is please, swim between the red and yellow flags, it is the area supervised by surf lifesavers and lifeguards who can assist you should something go wrong."

"But if you choose to swim out of hours or on unpatrolled beaches use the think line. "Stop, look and have a plan." 

STOP: don't rush in, check for rips
LOOK: are there any other dangers or hazards? Is there a patrolled area nearby?
PLAN: where are you going? do you know what to do if you get in trouble, how do you stay safe – visit BeachSafe.org.au

"Don't risk the rip."

For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit beachsafe.org.au 

Surf Life Saving Queensland :
PO Box 3747, South Brisbane QLD 4101, Brisbane
07 3846 8000
07 3846 8008
Surf Life Saving Queensland
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Draw the line on rips 13 December 2018 | Everyday Aussies impacted by rip currents have fronted Surf Life Saving Australia's (SLSA's) new summer safety campaign, urging all beach goers to draw a 'Think Line' in the sand. More information...

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