Post contributed by Luke Wright
When it comes to travelling of any nature, there are loads of things to be aware of. From saving enough money, to getting your jabs and visas, it’s always best to have a complete checklist you can tick off before your upcoming adventure.
However, once you start travelling the world there are new challenges you’re faced with. Is the food safe to eat? Should you drink the local water? Is the water safe to swim in? It’s this third question we’re going to address a little more – principally focusing on rip tides and the danger they pose worldwide.
What are rip tides?
Okay, so you may have heard of a rip tide, but what exactly are they – and should you really be worried? Well, opposite to popular belief a rip tide can occur worldwide, not just the exotic countries you may associate them with. For instance, five men were found dead off the coast of Camber Sands in the UK last month.
But, what is a rip tide? In an easy-to-explain way, rip tides can be visualised as a river running back into the sea. As waves crash against the coastline, the water must then flow back – under the incoming waves and forming a rip. If you’re swimming, diving, surfing or participating in any other form of water activity on your travels, you’ll need to know the facts.
How can you spot a rip tide?
Despite the notion of rip tides being caused by a strong current, it’s actually very difficult to spot one. There isn’t the expected assault of crashing waves and turbulent water to lookout for – instead, rip tides are often very calm and seemingly serene areas of the sea.
In fact, many swimmers often get into trouble for deeming this part of the water as the safest. From the beach, look for see a semi-circle like indication on the shore, waves crashing at an angle, or heavy surf conditions.
What are the different types of rip tide?
Not every rip tide is the same and in fact, there are different types that could be affecting the coastline you’re travelling to.
Fixed rips: The most common and typically found in the same location (as you would expect from the name). Size and shape can vary, so make sure to do some local research on the coastline you’re visiting.
Flash rips: Flash floods occur suddenly and with very little warning – flash rips are very similar. These typically form during storms and can extend from 10-100 metres offshore.
Topographic rips: Rip tides formed because of artificial features – including headlands, sand banks and manmade barriers.
Mega-rips: Considered the most dangerous of all rip tides and driven by deep currents, often during high wind activity. Fortunately, you’re unlikely to want to venture into the sea at these times and as such, won’t get caught.
How to keep safe from rip tides
Because of the potentially fatal consequences associated with rip tides, it’s important to know the dangers. If you’re travelling with kids, it’s worthwhile taking a quick look at this safety awareness video.
As well as watching that, consider the following tips to ensure your travelling adventure doesn’t end prematurely:
- Popular beach resorts should have water warnings. Only enter the sea between the flags on patrolled coastlines.
- Rip tides can occur in the calmest of water. Don’t be fooled and always remain vigilant.
- Don’t panic if you’re caught in a tide. Doing so will quickly use up vital energy.
- Swim out of the flow. A common mistake swimmers make is to swim against the current (back to shore). Success is unlikely – instead you should swim left or right of the rip and escape its pull.
So, there you have it. Hopefully you’ll now be a little better educated on rip tides and can ensure your travelling adventure remains eye opening, enjoyable, and above all, safe. Don’t get caught out when you’re enjoying the water!
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