Rips are one of the greatest and most common hazards on Australian beaches. Knowing what a rip is, how to spot one and how to avoid one is key to staying safe at the beach.


Rip currents are complex, can quickly change shape and location, and at times, are difficult to see. The things to look for are;

Rips don’t always show all of these signs at once. Sometimes it can be easier to look for where the waves are breaking consistently, and then look to each side where they don’t break consistently. Those areas are rip currents.

Learn more about a rip current 

  • Deeper and/or darker water
  • Fewer breaking waves
  • Sandy coloured water extending beyond the surf zone
  • Debris or seaweed
  • Significant water movement
What does a rip look like?

We have over 11,000 beaches in Australia with around 17,000 rip currents at any given time. Rips can change shape and location quickly and may be difficult to see.

Lifeguards and lifesavers know how to identify a rip through several telltale signs. Once you’re familiar with these, it will be easier to tell where rip currents are so that you can avoid them.

This video will help you learn how to identify a rip.


Learn more about Drowning Prevention

Join Water Safety and Rescue Courses

Drowning hazard on the beaches

Stories from victims of rip currents

The Think Line

We’re drawing the line on rips to make you stop and think before getting in the water.
  • Relax – stay calm and float to conserve your energy.
  • Raise – raise your arm and attract attention from lifeguards or lifesavers.
  • Rescue – the lifeguards or lifesavers will be on their way to help you.
  • While floating, rip currents may flow in a circular pattern and return you to an adjacent sandbar
  • You may escape the rip current by swimming parallel to the beach, towards the breaking waves.
  • Reassess your situation. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try one of the other options until you’re rescued or return to shore.
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