Drowning warning during February

(Janosch Lino/Unsplash)

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is urging people, including in Sunbury and the Macedon Ranges, to be aware of the risks before entering the water.

Recent data highlights swimming, paddling or wading as the most common activities preceding drowning in the month of February.

This follows on from 33 people already drowning in Victoria from July 1, 2022 to February 1, 2023, including 13 since Christmas Day, representing the highest holiday drowning figures in 18 years.

LSV research and evaluation manager Dr Hannah Calverley said any Victorians keen to jump in the water should think twice about their own swimming abilities.

“Victoria has stunning waterways and it is understandable people are eager to enjoy them, but we ask you to stop and think before rushing in and make safe decisions in, on and around water,” she said.

“Inland waterways are particularly risky, with almost half of the 33 reported fatal drownings this year occurring in inland waterways, so it is really important to remember that just because a waterway looks flat or calm, does not mean there is no danger.

“Rivers, creeks and dams can have hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface such as currents, sudden drop offs, slippery edges or debris, so even if you are just paddling or wading you could very quickly find yourself out of your depth and in trouble.”

Dr Calverley said other unseen risks exist in coastal waterways.

“It’s a common misconception that sharks are the biggest risk at Australian waterways, when it is actually rips,” she said.

“Rips are the number one hazard on the Australian coast, and can overcome even the strongest swimmer.

“This is why even confident swimmers should go to a patrolled location and swim between the red and yellow flags, where lifesavers can keep an eye on you and potential aquatic risks.”

Details: beachsafe.org.au