Danger of rip currents during Spring tides
NSRI urges bathers and those around the coast to be extra cautious this weekend and next week as the New Moon Spring Tide will peak on Sunday 13 September and cause stronger than normal rip currents to occur around the coast.
Very strong rip currents will be present around the coast from now and over the next 8 days. Bathers and shoreline anglers are most at risk and extreme caution is advised.
Spring Tides happen twice every month of the year, at full moon and again at new moon.
Spring Tides bring a higher than normal high tide and a lower than normal low tide. They cause stronger than normal rip currents for a few days leading up to the full moon and new moon, peaking on the day of the full moon and the new moon and lasting for a few days after the full moon and the new moon.
The stronger than normal rip currents, during Spring Tides have greater forces of water retreating into the ocean during the radical tide changes.
There are two high tides and two low tides every day. During Spring Tide the twice daily high tides are higher than normal and the twice daily low tides are lower than normal and rip currents are stronger than normal.
Rip currents are caused when the water reaching the shoreline in waves swells and sea currents need to find a way to retreat back into the sea. This is achieved in rip currents (a river of water retreating through the incoming swells back out into the sea).
There are two types of rip currents. Permanent rip currents are found alongside islands, rocky outcrops jutting into the sea, at river mouths, in between reefs and alongside harbour walls and piers. These permanent rip currents occur constantly in the same place and allow the water reaching the shoreline to retreat back into the sea in these permanent rip current.
Then there are temporary rip currents which are found along beach fronts (along the shoreline), and they are forever changing their position and they are unpredictable. They can form suddenly along a beach front without warning at different places along the shore front throughout the day and night.
During a Spring Tide (at full moon and again at new moon) these permanent and temporary rip currents are stronger than normal and pose the greatest danger during the Spring Tide.
Bathers are at risk of being swept out to sea by rip currents while swimming or wading in water along the beach front. Even bathers wading in shallow water who find themselves trapped in a rip current that forms suddenly are at risk of being swept out to sea by rip currents.
Bathers caught in a rip current should not panic. Simply stay afloat by treading water (moving your arms and legs in circular movements), don’t try to swim against the current as it will only cause you exhaustion and let the current sweep you out to sea,
Rather at your first opportunity swim parallel to the beach front until you are free of the rip current and then use the incoming waves to get back to shore.
While this is happening scream for help and wave your arm to alert people on the beach to raise the alarm.
Swim at beaches where lifeguards are on duty and obey the instructions of the lifeguards and only swim within the safe swimming zones that the lifeguards post on the beaches (using their red and yellow flags).
Children should have responsible adult supervision at all times around coastal and inland waters.
Anglers fishing along the shoreline, particularly along rocks on the shoreline, are at greatest risk during the Spring Tide where incoming waves during the high tides wash higher than normal over rocks.
Anglers should not turn their back to the sea and should be vigilant and cautious of the wave action at all times while fishing.
Boaters, paddlers, sail boarders and anyone launching any kind of craft onto water should wear their life-jackets at all times while on water and carry easily accessible safety equipment – red distress flares, communications cellphone or VHF radio with fully charged batteries in water tight plastic sleeves, a waterproof torch, highly visible neon coloured clothing, a referee whistle worn around the neck, and let a responsible person know your time of departure, your exact intended route and your estimated return time and check in with the responsible person on your safe return. (If you are overdue the responsible person should raise the alarm without hesitation).