The Aussie Invention Helping Save Kids From Rips
It’s all about breathing.
That’s the message from Scott Bland, who handcrafted a machine himself to travel around and teach children how to survive being caught in a rip.
“When you’re getting water splashed in your face and the waves are crashing, and you look up and the shore's further away it’s hard to remain calm, you have to work hard to remain calm," he told 10 News First.
“Once you get caught in it, it’s a scary feeling and you’re lucky, which I was, to escape.”
We know the dangers of rips, but do we really know what to do if we’re caught in one?
Bland and his mates were unlucky to have been caught in a rip at one point. They were then lucky enough that a passing boat noticed them struggling and pulled them out of the water, exhausted, to safety.
He’s since dedicated a life to education, pouring blood, sweat and tears into his ‘U-Rippa’ program and pushing to get it into schools across the country.
“Water safety in Australia is not the standard we expect, not the standards parents expect,” he said.
Bland is on a mission to save lives, and the kids absolutely love the program -- aimed to be the perfect mix of fun, and a little bit of fear.
“You laugh at the people who are going but when it’s your turn to go, you’re not laughing. It’s really hard,” program participant Gemma said.
Bland teaches that it’s not about being a strong swimmer, it’s about breathing.
If you don’t keep your head above water, you aren’t getting oxygen in, which ultimately leads to panic, and drowning. The lesson is to breathe, be patient, swim diagonally, and call for help.
But it’s a lesson many kids hadn’t learnt before.
Almost every youngster in the program 10 News First observed thought you tried to swim against, or just swim with it. Mother of one of the children, Judith Bence, watched the class in awe, saying she was left filled with confidence and new knowledge.
“Even though I tend to think my kids are strong swimmers, I was quite surprised when I saw there were lots of things they have to learn," she said.
“It’s been really good for me to remind me all of those things, keep your head up, stay calm.”
One mother even admitted they often go to pool instead of the beach, because of how dangerous the beach can be.
But after watching the lesson, another mum Kim Goddard said she “actually learnt something from this myself.”
And that’s all Bland wants.
“A little program like this, can actually save a lot of lives and if I’m saving lives I’m making a difference, and I’m very passionate about that,” he said.
Bland can be contacted via his website, www.u-rippa.com.au, to organise a program for kids this summer.