More than 250,000 people from around the world have now watched an award-winning UNSW-TV video on beach safety, featuring UNSW surf scientist Dr Rob Brander.
The five-minute video, titled Don't Get Sucked in by the Rip, is aimed at reducing the 90 or so drownings on Australian beaches every year, most of which result from swimmers getting caught in rip currents. Thousands more beachgoers are rescued by lifeguards and lifesavers due to rips as well.
The video is the brainchild of Dr Brander, a lifesaver and coastal geographer in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Mary O'Malley, Executive Producer of UNSWTV and UNSW Deputy Director of Communications.
Posted on YouTube in December 2008, the video has steadily grown in popularity, watched by hundreds of people every week. It won an Australian Safer Communities Award, sponsored by Emergency Management Australia (EMA) and many secondary schools and other universities have sought copies to show their students.
Many thousands more have watched it on Dr Brander's special website relating to his Science of The Surf public education program http://www.scienceofthesurf.com/, as well as other videos of the same name also posted in YouTube.
Dr Brander is also the author of a popular book The Essential Beach Book; everything you wanted to know about surf, sand and rips.
He uses harmless purple dye to show where rip currents can be found on the beach and how they are behaving. Coupled with simple graphics and high-quality videography, the video explains not only how to recognize a rip but how to respond if you are caught in one.
Typical of the many positive viewer comments posted at the YouTube site is this one: "If everybody planning to go to the beach to swim watched this, fatalities from rip currents would sharply fall. This vid is easy to understand without sacrificing accuracy. Great job!"
Dr Brander says: "There are over 11,000 beaches in Australia and they are arguably the best in world. Unfortunately, only 3% of these beaches are patrolled by lifesavers and lifeguards and it is of considerable concern that so many beachgoers drown and need to be rescued each year.
"These figures are unacceptably high and are largely due to a lack of understanding of the general public to the natural processes and hazards present on beaches. In fact, a recent study by UNSW has shown that almost 70% of Australians visiting the coast cannot spot a rip.
"The Science of the Surf program addresses this problem by providing a basic scientific understanding of the way that beaches, waves and rip currents work. We're truly delighted by this award and the recognition it gives to our efforts to save lives."
Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hCZuYzNujI