Continuing heatwave conditions have left authorities pleading with regional communities to swim safe with more than half of the 34 drownings last month occurring away from the coast.
Pappinbarra resident, Robyn Flanagan has a dam and a river at her family farm and says people need to be really vigilant and that teaching children to swim properly is vital.
“I taught my kids to swim as soon as swimming classes would take them, before they were a year old,” she said.
“Where you have a dam and no fences, children and adults need to be able to swim well, before they go in, and children should never be left unattended around water.”
Regarding adults, she says alcohol and swimming should never mix because people drinking around water causes lots of accidents. Because people swim in the dam on their farm, they have a rope at the end of the deck, and when anyone dives in, they throw a flotation device in too.
Robyn says the water is lovely and warm at the top but gets quite cold when you go lower, which can be a shock.
The Summer Drowning Toll tells a very sad story – in just 27 days in December, 34 people drowned.
Males accounted for 88 per cent of these deaths and 19 (56 per cent) of the drownings occurred away from coastal beaches and oceans.
Royal Life Saving Society research and policy national manager, Amy Peden, said the data painted a very sad story with 10 more drowning deaths this year compared to the same time in 2017.
“Our inland waterways, can often appear quite still and calm from the surface, but the murky water can hide hazards below such as tree branches, sandbanks, or rocks,” she said.
Tragically, Ms Peden said some of these drownings occurred while one person was attempting to rescue another.
Safety tips at rivers, creeks and streams
- Never swim alone
- Avoid drugs and alcohol around water
- Wear a lifejacket
- Check the current by throwing a leaf into the water to see the speed it travels
- If you are caught in a current, float on your back feet first, and go with the current. Don’t panic
- Check the depth of the water and look for submerged objects by using a stick
- Don’t jump or dive into the water
- Enter water slowly and feet first
- Take care of slippery or uneven surfaces around or in the water
- Actively supervise children around water
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back
- When on a large property, create a “child safe area” to isolate children from water sources
- Take a phone with you
- Learn lifesaving skills