Life Saving Victoria is urging Victorians to keep water safety front of mind today, with large numbers of people expected to head to our beaches, rivers and pools to cool off in the extreme heat.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts temperatures to reach highs of 42 degrees in Melbourne, with strong northerly then southerly winds, which may create rapidly changing conditions out on the water.
“When the cool change comes, the water is not where you will want to be,” says Kane Treloar, LSV’s acting lifesaving operations manager. “The Bureau has predicted strong southerly winds, which will create new rips along our coastline and intensify rips that are already established. It’s important to be vigilant about safety at all beaches – both coastal and in Port Phillip Bay.”
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 today, it’s also important to drink plenty of water and keep an eye on those most at risk.
“If you’re heading to the beach, remember that rips are the number one beach hazard for swimmers,” says Mr Treloar. “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.”
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.
Multilingual beach safety resources can be found at beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/multilingual, including where to find a patrolled beach and assess a beach’s hazard rating, or www.watersafety.vic.gov.au has general water safety advice.
“We’re also urging caregivers to actively supervise children around water with an important reminder that it only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown,” says Mr Treloar. “Consider whether you could rescue your child if they got into trouble, if not, don’t put them in danger – head to a patrolled location or pool with lifeguards today instead.”
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.