LSV preparing for “Perfect Storm 2.0” this summer

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is preparing for the continued impacts of COVID-19 on water safety, as the challenges of season 2020-21 are expected to persist into season 2021 – 22. 

With patrols due to commence at LSV’s 57 lifesaving clubs on Saturday 27 November, LSV will have eyes on the sand, skies and water to keep Victorians safe this summer. 

LSV has identified five top challenges and tailored responses to address them in 2021-22: 

  1. CHALLENGE: Significant increase in people recreating in and around water
    RESPONSE: Need for additional lifesaving services outside traditional locations and times
     
  2. CHALLENGE: More people crowding at popular waterway locations
    RESPONSE: Need to address crowding outdoors in case of Delta and other more virulent strains of COVID-19

  3. CHALLENGE: People missing out on gaining water safety knowledge and skills
    RESPONSE: Need to respond to communities that are less prepared to be safe in and around the water

  4. CHALLENGE: Greater demand and uncertainty for the lifesaving workforce
    RESPONSE: Need to support and sustain the lifesaving workforce of predominantly volunteers and casual staff

  5. CHALLENGE: Pandemic fatigue impact on water safety risk management
    RESPONE: Need to better coordinate and localise prevention, preparedness and response arrangements 

LSV chief operating officer Mevan Jayawardena said the organisation has already extended the lifesaving season, including lifeguard, rescue watercraft (jet skis) and aerial lifesaving services and refreshed its COVIDSafe plans. 

“In 2020-21, COVID-19 and bushfires created the perfect storm for water safety that saw Victoria face one of the worst drowning tolls on record, despite record levels of lifesaving services, preventative actions and rescue efforts,” Mr Jayawardena said. 

“The risks and challenges of the past season are expected to continue into 2021-22 following continued extended lockdowns, border closures and reduced water familiarity, requiring targeted actions to keep people safe around water.” 

LSV is also working closely with the wider aquatics industry to address the shortage of swim teachers, to help the public catch up on the approximately 160,000-plus swimming lessons missed each week during lockdown.  

“With the potential for large groups of people with minimal experience participating in outdoor activities recreating at a variety of coastal and inland waterways this summer, supporting the aquatics industry to implement catch-up activities for swimming and water safety education is vital,” Mr Jayawardena said.  

Despite the increase in lifesaving services, Mr Jayawardena reminds everyone heading to Victoria’s waterways to swim between the red and yellow flags at a patrolled location wherever possible, always know and stick to their limits, actively supervise children and never swim alone. 

“Our lifesavers and lifeguards are there to keep you safe, but please remember, if we cannot see you, we cannot save you,” he said. 

“We have expanded the red and yellow flags to allow for social distancing while recreating in the water, so that is the safest place to protect you from aquatic risks such as rips, as well as against COVID-19. 

“LSV wants everyone to safely enjoy returning to our waterways after two years in and out of lockdown and for everyone to return home safely from their day at the beach, pool or inland waterway.” 

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