ABSTRACT

Silva-Cavalcanti, J.S.; Silva, A. R.L; Silva, J.C.P; Araújo, M.C.B; Maragotto, M.G., and Costa, M.F., 2020. User's perceptions abourt rip currents and their specific management approaches at a densely occupied urban beach. In: Malvárez, G. and Navas, F. (eds.), Global Coastal Issues of 2020. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 95, pp. 953-957. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

This research aimed to analyze the beach user`s perceptions about rip currents and their specific management approaches at a densely occupied urban beach. Semi-structured questionnaires (N = 216) inquired beach users about use, rip currents knowledge and other hazards. When the beach user's accepted to respond the inquire, they signed an Informed Consent Form. In the 189 valid interviews, females (68%) go to Pina and Boa Viagem beaches more often than males (32%). The choice of the beach part where the beach user will remain was based on easy access (75%), security (13%) and < 6% for fashionable sites, beverages and snacks availability. Rip currents identification is poor, and many are unaware of the meaning of beach safety flags (34%). Around 35% of beach users affirmed not knowing the meaning of the red flags. According to beach users, lifeguards designate areas that are safe for bathing using a pair of red flags. So, they believed that this flag means the area is patrolled by lifeguards, and therefore safer. Other beach users associated red flags to shark attacks (66%). Beach users respondents were asked which area they thought was the safest place to swim and they selected rip channels as the safest place to swim. Beach users declared they know how to swim (71%), however with a swimming ability of < 25 m (84,5%). Information about rip currents is an essential component in developing interventions aimed at reducing the risk of drowning events. Specific management approaches (e.g. red flags) need to focus on debunking rip current myths, to improve understanding of safe swimming areas. The use of flags to indicate the occurrence of rip currents was a partially effective measure of beach management aiming at the prevention of drowning or shark attacks due to beach user's reduced knowledge about rip currents in general and flags meaning.

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