RIP Currents are a major cause of drowning at beaches all across the world, and Vietnam is no exception. When heading to the beach, it’s essential to be able to identify RIP currents, as well as understand what to do if you are caught in one.
What is a RIP current?
RIPs are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people from the shoreline out to sea and into deeper water.
RIPS tend to flow at around 2-4 km/h, but can flow at 6.5 to 8 km/h – which is faster than an Olympic swimmer!
Being caught in a RIP can be a frightening experience, especially if you are not aware of what is happening and you are not aware of what to do.
How to spot a RIP current
RIP Currents can be difficult to spot, even by experienced beachgoers. On well managed beaches where lifeguards are present, lifeguards should set up bathing zones away from RIP currents – but make sure you speak to a lifeguard where ever one is present before going for a swim.
Here are some key points to help you identify a RIP:
- A calm area of water between sets of breaking waves
- Debris floating out to sea
- Darker or discolored water
- A rippled look, when the water around is generally calm
RIPS are usually more powerful when there are large breaking waves – but RIPS can also occur around headlands, piers or other structures.
CAUTION: Often people think that a calm area between breaking waves may be a safer place to swim – however, such a calm area can be a RIP!
See the picture below. The calm area between breaking waves is a RIP.
What should you do if you are caught in a RIP?
If you are caught in a RIP, remain calm! Do not try and fight against the current. You should:
- If you are able to, swim parallel to the shore towards breaking waves. When you reach breaking waves, swim back to shore. The waves will help take you back to the beach.
- If you are unable to swim, float on your back, wave your arms and shout for help.
A RIP current is generally only around 25 meters wide. Swim parallel to the shore to escape the RIP. Do not panic, and do not try and swim against the current.
How can I stay safe at the beach?
Knowing how to identify a RIP current and knowing how to escape is important when visiting the beach. You should also:
- Swim at a lifeguarded area wherever possible. Many popular tourist beaches in Vietnam have lifeguard services – follow the directions of the lifeguards, and make sure you swim in the correct swimming zones.
- Where a buoyancy aid. Especially if you child or are a weak swimmer or not familiar with the swimming in the sea, wearing a properly fitted lifejacket can significantly reduce drowning risk. Competent swimmers should also wear a buoyancy aid. Check out our RESTUBE products!
- Make sure children are closely supervised at all times. This means being within arms reach of children at all times when they are in the water.
- Do not swim alone. Swim with a friend, and let people on land know where and when you are swimming.
By following these simple steps, you can make sure you have a fun and safe time at the beach!
Watch this video for further information on RIP currents: