Rip Current Awareness & Knowledge
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Rip Current Awareness & Knowledge A Study of What Beachgoers know about Rip Currents & The Effectiveness of the NOAA, Sea Grant and LAA Outreach and Education Program A Study Conducted on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, 2006 By the “Rip Current Scienteers” (Lukas Brummer, Ricky Dunphey, Daniel Koppa, Korey Kubricki
Rip Current Awareness & Knowledge A Study of What Beachgoers know about Rip Currents & The Effectiveness of the NOAA, Sea Grant and LAA Outreach and Education Program A Study Conducted on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, 2007 By the “Rip Current Scienteers” (Lukas Brummer, Ricky Dunphey, Daniel Koppa, Korey Kubricki Abstract Rip currents are defined as a strong current of water flowing away from the shoreline. Reports show that over 80 percent of water rescues are attributed to these dangerous currents (United States Lifesaving Association, 2005). This is a growing problem, since over 180 million Americans visit coastal communities each year. In this study, beach goers in Long Beach Island, New Jersey completed a survey, which tested their knowledge and awareness of rip currents. Twelve hundred surveys were distributed throughout the day during the summer months of June, July and August of 2007 in all six municipalities on Long Beach Island. The results from this study will indicate whether the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA), Sea Grant and the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) “Awareness Campaign” has had been successful as an effective outreach program. It will also provide insight into what areas of rip current awareness and knowledge need to be emphasized in future rip current outreach efforts. Introduction The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management estimates that over 180 million Americans visit coastal communities each year. This dramatic influx of people increases the chances of drowning while swimming in the ocean. While there are many dangers of swimming in the ocean, rip currents pose one of the most deadly threats (Figure 1). These powerful channelized currents of water pull swimmers away from shore and often result in drowning.
Figure 1. A Diagram of a Rip Current. Notice the flow of water away from the shoreline. Source: Nearshore Fundamentals, http://meted.ucar.edu/marine/ripcurrents/NSF/print.htm This report is the first that describes the effectiveness of a rip current national outreach campaign instituted by NOAA’s National Weather Service, the National Sea Grant Program and the United States Lifesaving Association to inform the public of rip current dangers. Through the efforts of these organizations, safety signs and brochures were provided to local towns and municipalities throughout New Jersey and the United States. Has the information reached the public? What does the average beachgoer know about rip currents? What still needs to be done in educating the public? These are the important questions, which this report hopes to address and provide some valuable insights.
Methodology Survey Location: Long Beach Island, New Jersey Figure 2. This is a map of Long Beach Island (LBI). Source: Provided by Mapquest.com Long Beach Island is an 18-mile barrier island that is home to six municipalities. The southern tier of Long Beach Island stretches 11 miles, from Ship Bottom to Beach Haven Inlet and consists of three municipalities: Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom, and Beach Haven. The northern tier stretches 7 miles from Surf City to Barnegat Light and consists of three additional municipalities: Surf City, Harvey Cedars, Barnegat Light, as well as portions of Long Beach Township. Its largest municipality, Long
Beach Township, is fragmented into four sections. You cannot get from Barnegat Light to Harvey Cedars in the north without going through Long Beach Township, and you cannot get from Ship Bottom to Beach Haven in the south without going through….…yep, Long Beach Township. Covering 12 miles, or two-thirds of LBI, Long Beach Township is the largest of the six municipalities on LBI. Long Beach Island is the longest lifeguard protected beach in the United States. All municipalities on the Island were provided with rip current beach safety signs and brochures through the outreach campaign instituted by NOAA’s National Weather Service, the National Sea Grant Program and the United States Lifesaving Association. Of the six municipalities, Long Beach Township chose not to place the signs on the beaches and decided to produce their own brochure to distribute to the public. Sampling Method and Sample Size: Data for the study was obtained using a stratified-cluster sampling technique. Twelve hundred individuals were surveyed during the months of June, July, and August. Four hundred surveys were administered each month at various times of the day and at various locations in all six municipalities. After administering the questionnaire, the members of the “Rip Current Scienteers” provided each person surveyed with a rip current brochure. The brochures were obtained from contacts made with NOAA and Sea Grant rip current researchers and personnel. While the sample does not constitute an area probability sample for the island, it does provide a representative sample of those visiting LBI during the summer 2007 season and more than adequately represents beachgoer’s
locations on the island. The following tables provide an overview of where and when the survey was administered. Table A: Month of Survey: June July August 400 400 400 33.33% 33.33% 33.33% Table B: Time of Day Survey Administered: Morning Afternoon Evening 293 828 79 24% 69% 7% Table C: Place of Survey on Long Beach Island: Barnegat Beach Harvey Long Ship Surf City Light Haven Cedars Beach Bottom Twp. 181 294 100 298 113 214 15% 24% 8% 25% 10% 18% Based on the scientific sampling method that was employed in the study, the overall sampling error for the study is less than 3%. See Appendix D for a more detailed explanation and determination of the margin of error.
Measurement Instrument: Questionnaire Design The questionnaire was developed after extensive research on rip currents and after careful consideration of what information was crucial for the safety of beachgoers. The survey consisted of 20 questions, which measured demographics, behaviors, and knowledge of the simple facts concerning rip current safety as well as information on the exposure to rip current beach signs and brochures. Appendix A contains the questionnaire that was used to collect the data for the study. Major Findings Though an extensive amount of data was collected during the study, the findings presented here focuses on effectiveness of the outreach campaign of providing rip current signs and brochures to beach towns along the Jersey Shore as well as the identification of what those surveyed knew and did not know about rip currents. Appendix B contains simple summary results for the questions while Appendix C contains additional graphs and tables that provide supplementary information. Awareness Brochure Effectiveness The number of people who indicated that they had received a rip current awareness brochure is shown in Graph 1. The majority of beach goers (86%) did not obtain a brochure. This is of great concern and clearly expresses the inability to get the brochures to the public. Graph 1 also shows how and where the brochures were obtained.
Graph 1: Percentage of those who had or had not previously received a rip current brochure. Have you received any rip current materials such as a brochure? 5% NO, 86% 3% 6% No Yes, Bought Badge Yes, Local Business Yes, Other Note: The survey consisted of n=1200 participants, however, this data was obtained from n=1192 as eight respondents failed to answer this question. Sampling Error = +/- 3% According to the graph, it can be seen that an overwhelming majority (86%) of the public going to LBI beaches have not received any brochures or materials about rip current safety. Of the people that did receive safety information, most of them received it upon buying their badge. Most of the public attending LBI beaches did not have either access to safety brochures or the material and brochures were not placed in locations where most of the public would see and take one.
Safety Sign Awareness The outreach campaign also consisted of posted signs at beach entrances or lifeguard signs. The effectiveness of this approach is displayed in Graph 2. Graph 2: Percentage of those who had or had not previously seen a Rip Current Safety Sign: Have you seen any rip current safety signs on Long Beach Island? 13% 1% NO: 63% 23% No Yes, at Beach Entrance Yes, at Lifeguard Stand Yes, Other Note: The survey consisted of n=1200 participants, however, this data was obtained from n=1185 as 15 people failed to respond to this question. According to the graph, 63% of those surveyed did not see a rip current sign as they entered the beach or on the beach. It is not surprising that most have not. It is not mandatory for safety signs to be posted at all locations. Furthermore, Long Beach Township, which accounts for 12 miles or about 66% of the shoreline, has refused to post any signs on its beaches. In addition, the placement of signs, and brush overgrowth have made many signs hard to spot. Missing and stolen signs has also reduced the number
The Effectiveness of Safety Signs and/or Brochures While it appears that posting safety signs has been more effective than providing rip current safety brochures, the impact of providing both can be seen from Table D and Table E. Table D: Those who Received Brochures and/or saw posted Safety Signs: Counts Brochures NO YES TOTAL Safety Signs NO 670 82 752 YES 345 87 432 TOTAL 1015 169 1184 Table E: Those who Received Brochures and/or saw posted Safety Signs: % Brochures NO YES TOTAL Safety Signs NO 57% 7% 64% YES 29% 7% 36% TOTAL 86% 14% 100% Note: The survey consisted of n=1200 participants, however, this data was obtained from n=1184 as 16 people failed to respond to both questions. According to the tables out of the 1184 people who answered both questions, 57% of the respondents neither received a brochure nor saw a safety sign. Only 7% had seen a sign and received a brochure. This suggests that there is still a lot of work to be done in getting the information out to the general public about the dangers of rip currents.
Knowledge and Rip Currents The survey consisted of 10 general information questions that dealt with various aspects of rip current knowledge. Table F and Graph 3 provide a visual summary Table F & Graph 3: Illustration of Summary of Percent with Correct Response Knowledge Question % Who Answered Correctly Q11. What is a rip current? 71% Q12. What is a sure sign that a rip current is 51% underway? Q13. If caught in a rip current, you should…… 24% Q14. When do rip currents occur? 73% Q15. In the US, rip currents cause this number 40% of deaths. Q16. Rip currents account for what percent of 26% lifeguard or beach rescues? Q17. Rip currents can last for a maximum of 21% how long? Q18. What should you do if you see someone 73% caught in a rip current? Q19. In New Jersey, rip currents kill more 82% people every year than? Q20. Rip currents do what? 41% Percent who correctly answered Survey Question 100 81 80 71 73 74 % % % % % 60 51 % 40 41 40 % % 24 26 21 20 % % % 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Question Number
Table F suggests the following: There were some questions where a majority of those surveyed was able to identify the correct answer. There were some questions where the percentage of people who identified the correct answer was considerably under a majority. It is unclear whether these differences can be attributed to the difficulty of the questions. It is possible that the answers to some questions were more obvious and therefore a higher percentage of people provided the correct response just by logical guessing. It can be seen that the overall knowledge that the public possesses about rip currents is inconsistent. It is not as important that the public know some of the facts such as how many rip current deaths occur annually or that rip currents kill more people in NJ than hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning combined. However, it is extremely important that they are aware of and can recognize when a rip current is present, that they know what to do if caught in a rip current and that they know what do if someone else is caught in a rip current. The fact that 3 out 4 of those surveyed do not know what to do if caught in a rip current and that almost half of those surveyed believe that rip currents pull you under the water is problematic. Overall, there is strong evidence to suggest that the job of educating the public on rip current dangers still needs greater outreach effort. A question-by-question tabular summary is provided in Appendix B and additional graphs are provided in Appendix C. These provide a detailed picture and explanation of the survey responses for the study, which have also been referred to in the following summary section.
Summary Remarks The survey revealed that 63% of these people have not seen any of the warning signs that were posted at the entrances to the beaches, on the back of lifeguard stands, on flags by the water or on rental units. The brochures and other rip current awareness materials were ineffective; people simply did not receive them. A high percentage of people did not receive any awareness materials: 71% of the people from Long Beach Island; 90% of the people from other towns in New Jersey, 80% of the people from Ocean County; and 88% of the people from out of state. Yes, the majority of the people surveyed are in danger. They were asked what activities they do while at the beach. They were given the choices of: sun bathing; reading; playing games or playing in the sand; wading in the ocean; playing a water sport; swimming; sleeping; and ‘other.’ The survey indicates that 90% of the people who responded enjoy at least one activity that involves being in the ocean. Since they are in the ocean, they are in danger. But to what extent are they in danger?
Many of the people surveyed who are in the ocean while at the beach minimize the danger they are in by swimming with lifeguards present. Only 2% indicated that they swim while there is never a lifeguard present; and 57% said that there is always a lifeguard present while they swim. However, just because lifeguards are present does not mean that you are not at risk of being caught in or drowned by a rip current. How much do people know about rip currents? Can they save themselves if a lifeguard cannot get there in time? The survey asked “if caught in a rip current, you should (check all that apply).” The possible answers were: “A,” stay calm; “B,” float, tread water or swim out of the current; “C,” relax and swim towards the shore; and “D,” call or signal for help. The correct answers are “A,” “B” and “D”. Only 24% of the people surveyed answered the question completely correct. This means that many people are not completely sure what to do to save themselves if they are caught in a rip current. 56% of the people surveyed listed the correct way; letter “B,” to swim out of the current as one of their answers. 17% of the people surveyed listed the wrong way, letter “C,” to swim toward the shore. 11% of the people surveyed answered both the correct and incorrect way to swim out of a rip current as one of their answers; meaning that they are not sure and are subject to danger.
But what about helping someone else caught in a rip current? The survey asked, “What would you do if you see someone caught in a rip current or struggling in the water?” The correct answer was letter “E”, (B) call for help and (C) throw a flotation device. 74% of the people answered the question completely correct (answering with letter “E”), while another 3% answered the question partially correct (answering with either letter “B” or “C”). Many people know how to save someone else that is caught in a current, but would struggle to save themselves if they were caught in a current. Since there is not a lot of knowledge about how to react while caught in the current, how many people can recognize that a rip current may be present before they get in the water? Letter “E” says “all of the above or none of the above,” With that in mind, it can be said that 49% of the people are not able to recognize all the signs of a rip current that may be present. It is unclear what percentage of the 51% of the people that answered “E” meant “all of the above” or meant “none of the above.”
This study set out to find the effectiveness of a rip current national outreach campaign instituted by NOAA’s National Weather Service, the National Sea Grant Program and the United States Lifesaving Association to inform the public of rip current dangers. The effectiveness of the campaign could have been measured by examining the change in public awareness and knowledge before and after the campaign. Since there is no data for the publics’ general rip current knowledge before the NOAA’s study, a comparison of this nature could not be done. The study clearly shows that the message did not reach the public. This is evident in the large number of people who did not receive a brochure. The results of this study suggest that new strategies for informing the public about rip currents need to be in place. The present data also suggest that there is a need to inform the public about the dangers of rip currents, and in doing so, heighten swimmers’ awareness in identifying their presence and ways of escaping the current if caught in one. Peoples’ conscious awareness of rip currents will help them swim in safe areas and give them the tools they need if they find themselves in a rip current. Continued outreach efforts are clearly needed in order to get a “Grip on the Rip”.
APPENDIX A: Rip Current Survey Questionnaire RIP CURRENT AWARENESS SURVEY We need your help to save lives. We are an Ecybermission research team, and we are doing a study of Rip Currents. Part of our study deals with rip current awareness. If you can take a few minutes to check off the answers to this survey, it would provide us with valuable information for our study. Thank you for your cooperation. Rip Current Research Team: Lukas Brummer, Daniel Koppa, Ricky Dunphey, Korey Kubricki Question #1: What is your gender: ◘ a) Male ◘ b) Female Question #2: What is your age category ◘ a) 13 to 18 ◘ b) 19 to 29 ◘ c) 30 to 44 ◘ d) 45 to 59 ◘ e) 60 and over Question #3: Where do you live? ◘ a) Long Beach Island ◘ b) Ocean County ◘ c) New Jersey ◘ d) Out of State Question #4: What is your Educational Level ◘ a) Middle School ◘ b) High School ◘ c) High School Graduate ◘ d) Some College ◘ e) College Graduate ◘ f) Post Graduate Question #5: How Often do you go to the Beach? ◘ a) rarely ◘ b) a few times a month ◘ c) a few times a week ◘ d) other: _____________________
Question #6: Which Activities do you do while at the beach? (Check all that apply) ◘ a) sun bathe ◘ b) read ◘ c) play games or play in the sand ◘ d) wade in the ocean ◘ e) water sport ◘ f) swimming ◘ g) sleeping ◘ h) other: ___________________ Question #7: Are you a ◘ a) Strong swimmer ◘ b) Average swimmer ◘ c) Beginning swimmer ◘ d) Can't swim at all Question #8: Are lifeguards present when you swim? ◘ a) always ◘ b) sometimes ◘ c) never Question #9: Have you seen any rip current safety signs on Long Beach Island? ◘ a) No ◘ b) Yes, as I entered the beach ◘ c) Yes, on the Lifeguard stand ◘ d) Yes, other: _____________________ Question #10: Have you received any rip current awareness materials such as a brochure? ◘ a) No ◘ b) Yes, when I bought my badge ◘ c) Yes, from the town municipal office ◘ d) Yes, from a local business establishment ◘ e) Yes, other: ____________________ Question #11: A rip current is ◘ a) the same as a rip tide ◘ b) the same as an undertow ◘ c) a powerful current of water moving toward the shore ◘ d) a powerful current of water moving away from the shore Question #12: What is a sure sign that a rip current is underway? ◘ a) A line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward ◘ b) A break in the incoming wave pattern ◘ c) A channel of churning, choppy water ◘ d) An area having a notable difference in water color ◘ e) All of the above or none of the above
Question #13: If caught in a rip current, you should (check all that apply) ◘ a) Stay calm ◘ b) Float, tread water or swim out of the current ◘ c) Relax and swim towards the shore ◘ d) Call or signal for help Question #14: Rip currents ◘ a) Occur every day on many beaches ◘ b) Occur only during high tide ◘ c) Occur only during low tide ◘ d) Occur only after major storms at sea Question #15: In the United States, rip currents cause ◘ a) under 100 drownings per year ◘ b) between 100 and 200 drownings per year ◘ c) Between 200-500 drownings per year ◘ d) Over 500 drownings per year Question #16: Rip currents account for what % of lifeguard or beach rescues? ◘ a) 20% ◘ b) 40% ◘ c) 60% ◘ d) 80% Question #17: Rip currents can last for a maximum of ◘ a) One hour ◘ b) One Day ◘ c) One Week ◘ d) Several Months Question #18: What would you do if you see someone caught in a rip current or struggling in the water? ◘ a) Go in after them ◘ b) Call for help ◘ c) Throw a life saving device to them ◘ d) Both a and b ◘ e) Both b and c Question #19: In New Jersey, rip currents kill more people every year than ◘ a) Hurricanes ◘ b) Tornadoes ◘ c) Lightning ◘ d) All of the above
Question #20: Rip Currents ◘ a) Pull people under the water ◘ b) Pull people away from the shore ◘ c) Pull people away from the shore and under the water ◘ d) None of the above Administered by: _____________________________ Date: _____________ Time: ___________ Location: ________________________
APPENDIX B: SUMMARY TABLE RESULTS Percentage Results for Survey Questions Demographic Questions Question 1: What is your gender? Male 37% Female 63% Question 2: What is your age category? 13 to 18 14% 19 to 29 16% 30 to 44 26% 45 to 59 31% 60 and over 13% Question 3: Where do you live? Long Beach Island 9% Ocean County 18% New Jersey 40% Out of State 33% Question 4: What is your Education Level? Middle School 3% High School 13% High School Graduate 12% Some College 23% College Graduate 29% Post Graduate 20%
Question 5: How often do you go to the Beach? Rarely 19% A few times a month 31% A few times a week 26% Other 24% Other includes such responses as “All Summer, Once a Year, Twice a Year…. This question could have had better categorical choices. Question 6: Which Activities do you do while at the Beach? Activities that involve being in the Ocean 91% Activities not involved with being in the Ocean 09% 91% of those who go to the beach engage in some sort of water activity which puts them in danger of being exposed to a Rip Current. Safety Awareness Questions Question 7: How strong of a swimmer would you consider yourself to be? Strong swimmer 27% Average swimmer 62% Beginning swimmer 8% I cant swim at all 3% Question 8: Are lifeguards present when you swim? Always 57% Sometimes 41% Never 2%
Question 9: Have you seen any rip current safety signs on or near the beach? No 63% Yes, as I entered the beach 23% Yes, on the lifeguard stand 13% Yes, other** 1% **other includes in rental unit, and on flags Question 10: Have you received any rip current awareness materials such as a brochure? No 86% Yes, when I bought my badge 6% Yes, from the town municipal office 2% Yes, from a local business establishment 3% Yes, other** 3% **other includes from a boy scout, from a friend, in Australia, from parents, lifeguard training, newspaper article, school, and TV report Rip Current Knowledge Questions Question 11: A rip current is…. The same as a rip tide 11% The same as an undertow 9% A powerful current of water moving toward the shore 9% A powerful current of water moving away from the shore 71% Correct Answer: A powerful current of water moving away from the shore
Question 12: What is a sure sign that a rip current is underway? A line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily seaward 9% A break in the incoming wave pattern 17% A channel of churning, choppy water 18% An area having a notable difference in water color 5% All of the above or none of the above 51% Correct Answer: All of the above or none of the above: Question 13: If caught in a rip current, you should…..(check all that apply) Stay clam 13% Float, tread water or swim out of the current 13% Relax and swim towards the shore 5% Call or signal for help 9% Some combination of the above listed answers 60% Question 14: Rip currents occur….. Occur every day on many beaches 73% Occur only during high tide 9% Occur only during low tide 3% Occur only after major storms at sea 14% Correct Answer: Occur every day on many beaches Question 15: In the United States, rip currents cause how many drownings per year? Under 100 drownings per year 19% Between 100 and 200 drownings per year 40% Between 200-50 drownings per year 26% Over 500 drownings per year 15% Correct Answer: Between 100 and 200 drownings per year.: Question 16: Rip currents account for what % of lifeguard or beach rescues? 20% of the rescues 8% 40% of the rescues 30% 60% of the rescues 36% 80% of the rescues 26% Correct Answer: 80% of the rescues
Question 17: Rip currents can last for a maximum of… One hour 22% One day 31% One week 26% Several months 21% Correct Answer: Several months: Question 18: What would you do if you see someone caught in a rip current or struggling in the water? Go in after them 1% Call for help 16% Throw a life saving device to them 3% Both A and B 7% Both B and C 73% Correct Answer: Both B and C Question 19: In New Jersey, rip currents kill more people every year than ….. Hurricanes 5% Tornadoes 3% Lightning 10% All of the above 82% Correct Answer: All of the above Question 20: Rip currents do what? Pull people under the water 7% Pull people away from the shore 41% Pull people away from the shore and under the water 50% None of the above 2% Correct Answer: Pull people away from the shore
APPENDIX C: GRAPHICAL SUMMARY RESULTS What is a Rip Current? 11% 9% 9% 71% same as a rip tide same as an undertow current of water moving toward shore current of water moving away from shore This pie chart indicates that an overwhelming 71% of people surveyed know that a rip current is a powerful current of water moving away from the shore. The remaining people surveyed pretty much divided their answers between the three other responses.
Signs of a Rip Current Break in wave channel of choppy water difference in water color line of foam 17% all or none of the above 52% 17% 5% 9% This graph describes whether people know the signs of a rip current. Over half of the people surveyed answered this question correctly in saying that there are multiple warning signs of a rip current, such as a break the wave pattern, a channel of choppy water, a difference in water color, and/or a line of foam moving steadily seaward. All of the other people surveyed knew at least one of the rip current warning signs.
When do Rip Currents Occur? 73% 80% 60% 40% 14% 10% 20% 3% 0% everyday on beaches only at high tide only after storms only at low tide This bar graph is used to show how often rip currents occur. Once again, an overwhelming 73% of people surveyed correctly answered that rip currents occur every day on many beaches. Fourteen percent of people thought rip currents occur only after storms, ten percent believe rip currents occur only at high tide, and a low three percent think they occur at low tide.
Rip Current Drownings Per Year Over 500 15% Between 200 and 500 26% 40% Between 100 and 200 19% Under 100 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% Percentages This graph shows the number of deaths caused by rip currents in the United States. 40% of people surveyed correctly answered that rip currents kill between 100 and 200 people per year. 15% believe that rip currents kill over 500 people per year. 26% believe that they kill between 200 and 500 people, and 19% believe that they kill fewer than 100 people per year.
Number of Lifeguard Rescues per Year Due to Lifeguards 8% 20 percent 26% 40 percent 60 percent 30% 80 percent 36% Out of all the people surveyed, the largest percent of people thought that rip currents account for 60% of lifeguard or beach rescues. Only 26% knew that in fact rip currents account for 80% of lifeguard rescues. 30% of people surveyed thought the correct answer was 40% and only 8% thought that rip currents are the cause of 20% of lifeguard or beach rescues.
How Long Can Rip Currents Last Several Months One Hour 21% 22% One Hour One Day One Week Several Months One Week 26% One Day 31% This graph shows how long rip currents can occur. Only 21% of people surveyed answered this question correctly by saying that rip currents can occur for several months at a time, as opposed to the other 79% that said they occur for one hour, one day or one week at a time.
What exactly do Rip Currents Do? 2% 7% Pull under the water Pull away from shore 50% 41% Pull away and under None of the Above This graph shows that half of the people surveyed incorrectly think that a rip current pulls people away from the shore and under the water. 41% of the surveyed people answered correctly by saying rip currents pull people away from the shore. 7% think it pulls people under the water and 2% think rip currents do something other than those three things.
What do People do at the Beach? Percent of the Total People Surveyed Whose Beach Activities Involve being in the Ocean 90% 10% Involves the Ocean Does Not Involve the Ocean Yes, the majority of the people surveyed are in danger. They were asked what activities they do while at the beach. They were given the choices of sun bathing; reading; playing games or playing in the sand; wading in the ocean; playing a water sport; swimming; sleeping; and ‘other.’ The survey indicates that 90% of the people who responded enjoy at least one activity that involves being in the ocean. Since they are in the ocean, they are in danger. But to what extent are they in danger?
Are Lifeguards Present? Percent of all Swimmers Surveyed Who Swim With Lifeguards Present Always with a Lifeguard Present 41% Never with a Lifeguard Present 57% Sometimes with a Lifeguard Present 2% Many of the people surveyed who are in the ocean while at the beach minimize the danger they are in by swimming with lifeguards present. Only 2% indicated that they swim while there is never a lifeguard present; and 57% said that there is always a lifeguard present while they swim. However, just because lifeguards are present does not mean that you are not at risk of being caught in or drowned by a rip current. Can they save themselves or others if a lifeguard cannot get there in time?
What if you are caught in a Rip? 19% 24 % 17% 13% 9% 5% 13% a) Stay calm; b) float, tread water or swim out of the current; d) call or signal for help a) Stay calm b) Float, tread water or swim out of the current c) Relax and swim towards the shore d) Call or signal for help Answers containing c) Other answer combinations Only 24% of those surveyed selected the three things to do when caught in a rip current. While some recognized one of the things to do, 22% selected the answer or combination of answers which said to “Relax and swim towards the shore.” This is one of the major reasons of why people die trying to fight against the force of the rip current.
What if someone is caught in a Rip? What People Would Do If Someone Was Caught In A Rip Current 80% E 70% A = Go in 74% After Them 60% B = Call for Help 50% C = Throw 40% Flotation Device 30% D ( A and B) = Go in After them & Call for Help 20% D E (B and C) = Call for Help & A B C 7% Throw 10% 16% 1% 2% 0% What about helping someone else caught in a rip current? The survey asked, “What would you do if you see someone caught in a rip current or struggling in the water?” The correct answer was letter “E”, (B) call for help and (C) throw a flotation device. 74% of the people answered the question completely correct. 23% indicated that they would go in after the person, which is the worst possible thing to do.
How good can they Swim? Swimming Ability Average Swimmer 100% Strong Swimmer 80% 62% 60% Beginning Swimmer 26% 40% 8% Can't Swim at All 4% 20% 0% While 88% of those surveyed indicated that they were either an average or strong swimmer, even an Olympic caliber swimmer would have difficulty escaping a strong rip current. Being a strong or average swimmer can give a person a false sense of security in trying to swim against a rip current.
How Deadly are Rip Currents? In NJ, Rip Currents kill more than... 3% 10% 5% 82% All of the Above Hurricanes Lighting Tornadoes In New Jersey, rip currents kill more people than hurricanes, lightning, and tornadoes combined. Surprisingly, 82% of respondents were able to correctly answer this question.
While this information is not crucial in looking at rip current knowledge or awareness, the following graphs provide a summary of the demographic results from the survey. Gender 37% According to the data, a Male Female majority of the 63% participants were female Source: Rip Current Awareness Survey Age Categories 13% 14% 13 to 18 16% 19 to 29 They ranged mostly in 30 to 44 between the ages of 45 31% 45 to 59 years old to 59 years old. 26% 60 and over Source: Rip Current Awareness Survey
400 P a r t ic ip a n t s 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 College High Graduate High School M iddle School Post School Graduate Some Graduate College This chart illustrates the education level of the participants of the Rip Current Survey. It is clear that most of the participants are educated individuals, with 35% high school graduate and some college, while 49% have graduated and/or continued their post college educating.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - P a r t ic ip a n t s 500 400 300 200 483 100 108 218 391 0 LBI NJ Ocean County Out of State ----------------------------------------Residence New Jersey, known for it’s popular ‘Jersey Shore,’ is home to 67% of all participants, with only 33% living out of state.
APPENDIX D: Determination of Sampling Validity and Sampling Error A common goal of survey research is to collect data representative of a population. Sampling validity is required to insure that the sample represents the population of interest for any study or survey. The population of interest for our study was summer beachgoers to Long Beach Island, NJ. In order to insure the validity of the sample, a multi-stage cluster- stratified sampling scheme was the method of choice. Multi-stage sampling is where the researcher divides the population into strata, samples the strata, then stratifies the samples, and then resamples, repeating the process until the ultimate sampling units are selected .When the strata are geographic units, this method is sometimes called cluster sampling. The first stage of our sampling scheme was to divide LBI into cluster areas based on the townships that are incorporated on the Island. Respondents were selected from Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City. The number of individuals from each township was neither proportional to their area or population but was selected in order to represent to the extent possible the size of the beach going population in each township. Twelve hundred (n=1200) surveys were collected in total. Four hundred surveys were collected in each of the summer months. Additionally the time of day was used to stratify the sample further. While the results of this study may not be extended to other beach areas of New Jersey or other beaches on the East Coast, the results provided are representative for Long Beach Island, the longest continuous beach area in New Jersey. It should be noted that it is common practice to treat data from multi-stage cluster sampling as if it were randomly sampled data. Overall, multi-stage or cluster sampling is usually less precise than simple random sampling, which in turn is less precise than one-stage stratified sampling. Since multistage sampling is the most prevalent form for large, national surveys, and since most computer programs use standard error algorithms based on the assumption of simple random samples, the sampling error reported in this study may underestimate the exact error of the study. An approximate upper bound estimate of the sampling error is provided by the general formula: ⎛ 1⎞ S.E. = ⎜ N ⎟ × 100 ⎜ ⎟ ⎝ ⎠ For a sample size of n = 1200 the corresponding calculation yields a SE of +/- 2.88%.
A more exact formulation of the Sampling error for a random sample is provided by the formula: S. E. = (√ (p) * (1-p)/n) * 100 This estimate is dependent on the percent p that respond to a particular quantitative question. The below table shows the various sampling error estimates for the range of percent values that were obtained in this study. Sample Percentage Sampling Error for a sample of Size 1200 .10 or .90 Plus or minus 0.86% .20 or .80 Plus or minus 1.15% .30 or .70 Plus or minus 1.33% .40 or .60 Plus or minus 1.41% .50 Plus or minus 1.44% While these calculations again are based on a random sample, the multi-stage cluster stratified sample that was used will have a sampling error that does not differ much from these values. At the very worst, the sampling error should be no more than +/- 3%, and is likely to be considerably less.
APPENDIX E: Acknowledgements and References: Our team, the “Rip Current” Scienteers spent most of the summer, not only administering this survey; but also researching and investigating rip currents. We had the privilege to interview and meet with several individuals who are heavily involved with rip current research and outreach. Through these contacts, we were able to learn a lot about rip currents and what others are doing to help with this problem. Specifically, we would like to thank the following to take the time to talk and visit with us and provide us with important insights. Dr. Wendy Carey, University of Delaware Sea Grant James Eberwine, National Weather Service Office, Mount Holly Dr. Stewart Farrell, Director, Coastal Research Center, Richard Stockton College Dr. Thomas Herrington, NJ Sea Grant, Stevens Institute of Technology Bob Irvine, Long Beach Township Rip Current Advocate Jack Puleo, University of Delaware Center for Applied Coastal Research Timothy Schott, NOAA, Marine & Coastal Weather Services Rip Current Major Internat Research Sites utilized: 1. Nearshore Fundamentals, http://meted.ucar.edu/marine/ripcurrents/NSF/htm., 2005-2006. 2. Rip Current Education, http://www.ocean.udel.edu/wcarey/monthlyquestion, 2003 3. NOAA’s Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services, www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov, 2005-2006. 4. Rip Currents: Don’t Panic, A report by Katie Mosher, North Carolina Sea Grant, 2002 5. Rip Currents: A Field Experiment. http://www.oc.nps.navy.mil/~thornton/ripex/ 6. Rip Current Information: http://www.usla.org 7. How Rip Currents Work:: http://science.howstuffworks.com/rip-current.htm 8. Rip Currents: http://epod.usra.edu/archive/epodviewer.php3?oid=109088
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