17 January 2018
Life Saving Victoria is urging Victorians to keep water safety front of mind this week, with large numbers of people expected to be heading to our beaches, rivers and pools to cool off in the coming days.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts temperatures for tomorrow and Friday to reach highs of 38+ degrees in Melbourne, with temperatures exceeding 40C in some parts of the state.
“With the hot weather we’re expecting it’s important people realise just how dangerous all waterways can be, even in seemingly calm conditions” says Greg Scott, LSV’s Lifesaving Operations Manager. “Whether you plan to cool down with a swim, paddle or surf, make sure you’re with a friend.”
His advice is to be aware and prepared before heading to the water, and to read and obey safety signs when you get there. With the DHHS issuing a Heat Health alert for parts of Victoria for both Thursday and Friday, it’s also important drink plenty of water and keep an eye on those most at risk in the heat.
“If you’re heading to the beach, remember that rips are the number one beach hazard for swimmers and each year more people drown in rips than die from shark attacks, cyclones and floods combined,” says Mr Scott.
“Despite this, three quarters of people can’t identify a rip current and two thirds of people who think they can spot a rip, can’t. Learning how to identify and avoid a rip current is essential for beachgoers and don’t forget rivers and bayside beaches can also have strong currents.
“We’ve seen particularly prevalent and active rip currents across Victoria so far this season. It’s important to recognise that beach conditions can change significantly from one day to the next, even in a matter of hours.”
LSV recommends that if you’re caught in a rip current, stay calm, conserve your energy and consider these options – wave an arm and call out to seek help; float with the current, which may return you to a shallow sandbank; swim parallel to the beach, which may help you escape the rip current; and then reassess the situation – if what you’re doing isn’t working, try another option until you return to the shore. Stay calm, all rips can be escaped from.
With two weeks left of the summer school holidays, children across the state are likely to be flocking to popular swimming spots to seek respite from the heat on Thursday and Friday.
“We’re expecting many children, parents and grandparents to be out enjoying the water this week,” says Mr Scott.
“While we encourage people to get outdoors and experience the wonderful waterways Victoria has to offer, we want everyone to come home safely from a day at the beach, river or by the pool.
“We’re urging parents and carers to actively supervise children around water with an important reminder that it only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown.”
For those using the warm weather as an opportunity to take kayaks and paddlecraft out on the water, LSV encourages people to think twice about paddling alone and always wear a lifejacket.
“When paddling, make sure you have the ability to raise an alarm. Know your own capability and always let someone know of your plans,” says Mr Scott.
To find out where the patrolled locations will be on the day you’re planning to visit the beach, download the beachsafe app or visit beachsafe.org.au.
Multilingual resources can also be found at beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/multilingual, with guides on how to enjoy the beach safely.
Download the Vic Emergency App for waterway warnings at emergency.vic.gov.au and be aware and prepared for conditions by checking the Bureau of Meteorology app or bom.gov.au, for up-to-date conditions and warnings.
For further information please call LSV media on 0411 193 962 or visit our website.