Royal Life Saving Society Australia is aware that many people are often fooled by the seemingly calm water of rural waterways.
Royal Life Saving Society Australia is aware that many people are often fooled by the seemingly calm water of rural waterways. These aquatic locations are constantly changing and they are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should you get into trouble there may be no one to assist.
With the recent heavy rainfall the potential dangers are exacerbated “Rural waterways potentially present a wide range of dangers, particularly after heavy rainfall.
Areas which did not have a current in the morning may have one in the afternoon,” said Rob Bradley, CEO Royal Life Saving. “Be mindful of crubbling or slippery banks, shifting floors, submerged objects, water craft and cold water,” added Bradley.
Royal Life Saving’s 2007 National Drowning report illustrated that last year 202 (73%) males and 75 (27%) females drowned, making males almost 3 times more likely to drown. Drowning deaths are up by 55 on the 5 year average.
This is partially due to climatic conditions around Australia causing storms, floods and other conditions that place people at greater risk of drowning (there were 14 deaths of people who drowned while driving across or into flooded roads or were swept away).
Royal Life Saving offers a couple of “tips” to people holidaying or local residents near a rural waterway:
- Always enter the water slowly; feet first, never dive in.
- Strong currents are often present where rivers enter lakes or dams.
- Be aware that heavy rainfall alters water levels.
- Be aware of underwater or drifting obstacles such as branches and rubbish, particularly after a storm.
- Currents are unpredictable, so don’t expect them to follow the contour of the river.
- Water can be a lot colder than it appears so be aware of hypothermia.
- Banks can contribute to an accidental fall into the water.
- Riverbeds can be uneven, unstable and slippery.
- Don’t cross flooded inland waterways, the water may look calm and shallow but it is possible that the road that was there no longer exists.