Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean rip currents claim more lives than other natural hazards

Date:
November 27, 2013
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Rip currents claim more lives in Australia on average each year than bushfires, floods, cyclones and sharks combined, research shows. Yet rips do not get as much attention as the other natural hazards. The study could be applied in other countries to more appropriately put this global problem into perspective.

Dr Rob Brander, whose study shows that rip currents claim more lives in Australia on average each year than bushfires, floods, cyclones and sharks combined.
Credit: UNSW

Rip currents claim more lives in Australia on average each year than bushfires, floods, cyclones and sharks combined, UNSW research shows.

Related Articles


Rip currents are the cause of an average 21 confirmed human fatalities per year, compared with 5.9 for bushfires, 4.3 for floods, 7.5 for cyclones and 1 for sharks.

"Rips account for greater overall loss of human life than other high profile natural hazards. Yet they do not get anywhere near as much attention and dedicated funding," says Dr Rob Brander, a coastal geomorphologist at UNSW, and lead author of the study.

The study is published in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth Science Systems.

Australia has about 11,000 mainland beaches with an estimated 17,500 rip currents operating at any given time. Rip currents are strong, narrow seaward-flowing currents that can easily carry unsuspecting swimmers significant distances offshore, leading to exhaustion, panic and often drowning.

An analysis of data from Australia's National Coronial Information System shows there was an average 21 confirmed deaths involving rips per year during the period 2004 to 2011.

"And this is likely to be an underestimate because there has to be a witness to an event who saw the person was caught in a rip, and then this information has to be included in the coronial report," says Dr Brander, a co-author on the study which was published earlier this year and led by researchers from Surf Life Saving Australia.

For the new study Dr Brander's team used information from the Australian Emergency Management Institute National Disaster Database to identify the average number of deaths per year caused by tropical cyclones, bushfires and floods since the mid-to-late 1800s.

In addition, the Australian Shark Attack File administered by Taronga Zoo shows there has been an average of one death a year since 1962.

"Other types of hazards, like bushfires, have the capacity to claim large numbers of lives in a single event. On the other hand, rip currents are almost always present and rarely result in more than one death at a time. But in the end, more people die as a result of them," says Dr Brander.

Information about rips from Dr Brander that could save your life

  • There is no such thing as undertow. Rips don't pull people under the water, but rather flow out like a river.
  • Rip currents can flow straight out to sea, but they may also curve, zigzag, or flow parallel to the beach and then curve sharply outwards.
  • Most rips sit in deeper channels between shallow sandbanks. Always spend a few minutes at the beach looking for dark gaps, almost like paths, heading out through the whitewater. Even though they may look safe, these gaps are probably rips.
  • Rips flow faster than most people can swim so don't try and swim against them back to the beach.
  • If you are caught in a rip you should stay calm, float and signal for help.
  • Don't get caught in the first place. Swim between the red and yellow flags and learn how to spot them.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Brander, D. Dominey-Howes, C. Champion, O. Del Vecchio, B. Brighton. Brief Communication: A new perspective on the Australian rip current hazard. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 2013; 13 (6): 1687 DOI: 10.5194/nhess-13-1687-2013

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Ocean rip currents claim more lives than other natural hazards." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110509.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2013, November 27). Ocean rip currents claim more lives than other natural hazards. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110509.htm
University of New South Wales. "Ocean rip currents claim more lives than other natural hazards." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131127110509.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) As falling oil prices boost Americans' spending power, the U.S. government is also gaining flexibility from savings on oil. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins