We all know supervision is a must and when we are at the beach, the safest place to swim is in between the flags. As summer approaches, swimming pool gates are checked and locked, but what precautions do we take when we travel to and swim in Inland Waterways?
In 2013-2014, Inland Waterways saw the highest number of drowning deaths (39%), compared to Swimming Pools (15%) and Beaches (13%). Overall, 266 people drowned in Australian waterways and 105 of these occurred in Inland Waterways (National Drowning Report, 2014).
What is an Inland Waterway?
Inland Waterways and General Safety
Inland waterway safety is key. As summer approaches, Far North Training in Mossman encourages you to Play It Safe by following these simple steps:
- Always supervise your children, remember there are no lifeguards on duty
- Don’t swim after drinking alcohol. Only operate a power boat if your alcohol level reading is under 0.05, on the road and on the water. This equates to approximately one or two standard alcoholic drinks.
- Remain under 0.05 when driving your boat or vehicle
- Lock your vehicle and don’t leave valuables unattended
- Respect other visitors and be mindful of the noise and other nuisances
- Keep in mind that much of the land surrounding the lake is private property which must not be accessed
- Exercise caution as water levels are subject to change and there may be submerged objects
- Be aware of local fauna, such a snakes. Always carry a first aid kit
- Stay on trails. Venturing away from marked trails causes damage to the environment
- Keep safe distances between power boats and swimmers/paddle crafts. Boats should allow 30 meters between the boat and swimmer/paddle craft, jet skies should allow 60 meters between the jet ski and swimmer/paddle craft
- Water crafts should only be launched into the water from designated launch points (such as a boat ramp)
To provide a safe environment for yourself and your family, make sure you are aware of the possible dangers which exist in and around inland waterways:
- Submerged Objects. Submerged trees, branches and boulders are often invisible from above the surface and present a real risk of neck and spinal injuries, especially to divers. Never dive into inland waterways. Enter the water slowly, feet first.
- Banks. A crumbling riverbank can mean an accidental fall into the water. Falls into Inland Waterways accounted for 29 out of the 105 deaths
- Riverbeds. Uneven or unstable riverbeds and slippery underwater obstacles can be a contributing factor to injury or death
- Water Temperature. Water can be a lot colder than it appears. Hypothermia can occur if the body’s internal temperature suddenly drops and puts your vital organs at risk
- Flooded Waterways. Do not try and cross via swimming or with a paddle craft or powered vessel
- Heavy rainfall. Storms can dramatically alter the water level of inland waterways. Use caution, even in familiar environments
- Currents. Very unpredictable as they rarely follow the contour of the river. REMEMBER that water conditions in inland waterways can change often. Although it may have been suitable an hour ago, it can change hourly due to the current.
INCASE OF EMERGENCY DIAL 000 – Don’t hesitate!
Other drowning Statistics:
Full Report: National Drowning Deaths, 2014