THE HEAT IS ON: How to use technology to stay safe around the water

Life Saving Victoria is urging Victorians to use technology to keep safe around the water this week as high numbers of beachgoers are expected to cool off in the heat, with temperatures around the coast in the high thirties.

Lifesavers are asking the public to check warnings and read up on beach water safety in the preparedness section of the VicEmergency website or app, as well as keeping across weather conditions on the Bureau of Meteorology website or app, and find beach hazard ratings and patrolled beach locations at the Beachsafe website or app.

“The message this season is to be prepared before a day at the beach, and that includes researching the beach you’ll be going – not all are suitable to swim at, especially for those with limited surf education or swimming ability,” says Kane Treloar, LSV’s acting lifesaving operations manager. “Once at the beach: stop and look for hazards and plan before rushing into the water.”

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.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts temperatures to reach highs of 43 degrees inland in places such as Mildura and Yarrawonga, so taking time to read the Royal Life Saving Respect the River resources and take in the advice to always wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol around water, swim with a friend and learn to save a life.

Children on school holidays can learn more about water safety at the Everyday Lifesaver app, which uses gamification to make learning water safety, emergency response and CPR more engaging.

“Technology can help to be more prepared and aware around water, but when you’re supervising children, put the phone, laptop or iPad away,” says Mr Treloar. “Children under 5 need to be actively supervised and always within arm’s reach, with children 10 and under always in your line of sight. It only takes 20 seconds to drown, so the risk isn’t worth it.”

Multilingual beach safety resources can be found at beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/multilingual and www.watersafety.vic.gov.au has more general water safety advice.

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