WATCH: Surf Life Saving Australia launches new summer safety advertising campaign

EVERYDAY Australians impacted by dangerous rips have fronted Surf Life Saving Australia’s new summer safety advertising campaign, urging all beach goers to draw a ‘Think Line’ in the sand.

Rip survivors and those who have lost loved ones are echoing the call for swimmers to STOP to check for rips, LOOK for other dangers, and PLAN on how to stay safe, before entering the water.

National Coastal Risk and Safety Manager Shane Daw said rip related drownings and rescues were the number one hazard at Australian beaches.


On average, 19 people drown are becoming caught in rips every year in Australia. Over half of those who drowned could touch the bottom of the ocean when they caught by the strong current.

It’s estimated one-in-four people rarely or never look for a rip before entering the water, while of those who are confident they can detect a rip, less than half actually can.

With more than 17,000 rips detected on any given day around the country, Mr Daw said it was important swimmers knew what to look out for.

Are you one of the 3-in-4 people who don’t know how to spot a rip? Scroll down to learn how.

“Rip-related drownings are largely preventable,” Mr Daw said.

“We want beachgoers to draw a line in the sand, the ‘Think Line’, and consider their actions before they cross the line.

“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.”

Derek Wilson’s too well just how deadly rips can be. Tragically, his two young children and two nieces died after becoming caught in one.

“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.

Derek Wilson’s two children and two nieces died after becoming caught in a rip | Source: Surf Life Saving Queensland

Mr Daw said Derek’s story was 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. Don’t risk the rip.”

  • 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