Port Elizabeth’s WaterWise Instructor, Marcus Oshry, has some advice about rip currents for children …
Teaching children from different backgrounds always makes me realize that we all need to learn about the sea. The number of people who haven’t got a clue as to how the sea works, is incredible.
What is a rip current, why is it there, what is its purpose? … Many of these questions are met with blank faces and this is one of the reasons that we have so many drownings in the Eastern Cape.
In a recent WaterWise Workshop, a learner told me that the sea had a deep end, and waves were caused by the wake of all the shipping…
Port Elizabeth recently had a dreadful drowning incident where members of a Club rugby side as well as some bathers were caught in a rip current. The scary part of the story is that the rip suddenly formed between the flags in the middle of the safe demarcated bathing area.
The beach was safe and swimmers were all enjoying themselves until the tide turned and started going out. The bathers were all out on the sand bank with the breaking waves and suddenly the outgoing tide swept the sand bank away and caused a massive rip current which caught all the bathers.
The life savers and emergency services sprang into action and saved the majority of the bathers but 6 lives were lost.
Panicking, is often what causes drowning. If you remain calm and don’t panic, you can successfully get out of a rip current. My biggest piece of advice to all learners that I teach, is DON’T PANIC!
Wave for help, let the current take you out – never swim against it – and then swim parallel to the beach to get out of it. Think of the current as a river, and you need to swim to the side of the river to get out of the current. You can then use the waves to get you back to the shore. For more information on rip currents click here.