16 March 2018
Life Saving Victoria is urging the public to play it safe around the water this weekend, with increased numbers of people expected to be heading to beaches, rivers and pools to cool off in the warm and windy weather that’s forecast for Saturday.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts temperatures to be in the 30s for most of the state, paired with moderate north to north westerly winds across west and central Victoria and a strong wind warning for the East Gippsland Coast, a recipe for disaster for unprepared waterway visitors.
“With the heat and wind we’re expecting, it’s important people realise just how dangerous all waterways can be, even if it seems calm at first glance,” says Greg Scott, LSV Lifesaving Operations Manager. “If you’re planning to cool down with a swim, paddle or surf, make sure you check the conditions and read and obey the safety signs before heading into the water. If in doubt, don’t go out.”
For those using the warmer weather as an opportunity to take kayaks and paddlecraft out, Life Saving Victoria encourages people to think twice about paddling alone and to wear the appropriate safety gear, including a lifejacket and a means to raise the alarm.
“When paddling, make sure you carry a mobile phone, marine radio or EPIRB. Know your own capability and always let someone know of your plans,” says Mr Scott.
Lifesavers warn that although popular, inflatable pool toys are not designed for open water environments and are particularly hazardous in high winds.
“Stay away from using inflatable pool toys anywhere but the pool,” says Mr Scott. “Inflatables are light and tend to move quickly in the wind and in currents. They can drift quite a distance from the coastline or down the river, making for some really dangerous situations.”
Learning how to identify and avoid a rip current is essential for beachgoers, remembering that rivers and bayside beaches can also have strong currents.
“We’ve seen prevalent and active rip currents across Victoria so far this season,” says Mr Scott. “It’s important to recognise that beach conditions can change significantly and quickly, within a matter of hours.”
For beachgoers, the safest place to swim is always between the red and yellow flags. Lifesavers will be on patrol at 57 locations across the state this weekend helping to keep Victorians and visitors safe in the water. 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.