The majority of RNLI Lifeguard incidents involve rip currents which are a major cause of accidental drowning on beaches.
Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people into deep water at up to 5mph. They can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface. Even the most experienced beachgoers can be caught out by rips, so don’t be afraid to ask lifeguards for advice.
The best way to avoid rips is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags so you can be spotted more easily if you get into trouble.
The RNLI advises if you are caught in a rip:
- Stay calm, don’t panic
- Don’t try to swim against it you will get exhausted
- Keep hold of your board or inflatable to help you float
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim
- If you can swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore
- Always raise your arm in the air and shout for help
If you see anyone in trouble alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.