Be Safe On The Water!

With the Christmas holidays coming up, and the beautiful Nepean River on our doorstep, it’s a good time to be talking about safety on the water, but it’s not only children that we need to watch out for. New research shows that 43 drownings occurred in the Nepean, Hawkesbury, Murrumbidgee and Macquarie rivers from 2005-2015, and 121 men between the ages of 25-34 lost their lives on our waterways over the same period. Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant and Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres recently visited Tench Reserve to release two new water safety reports by Royal Life Saving NSW and to flag the dangers in our rivers as the weather warms up. Mr Grant said the findings from these two reports are confronting, and highlight the need for vigilance. “Rivers are high risk locations for drowning and we need to ensure people take their safety as seriously as they would if heading to the beach. We want everyone to enjoy our renowned rivers to swim, boat or fish this summer season, but our message is simple: to stay safe, you must respect the river. Wear a lifejacket, avoid consumption of alcohol and drugs around waterways, never swim alone, and learn how to save a life.” It’s as Aussie as a meat pie with tomato sauce to have a cold one in the sun, but Mr Ayres said that the report into drownings of men aged 25-34 reinforced the dangers of alcohol and drug use in and around the water. “We have lost the equivalent of a local cricket team each year for ten years, and nearly 40 per cent of the drownings involved alcohol and over 20 per cent involved drugs,” Mr Ayres said. Royal Life Saving NSW CEO Michael Ilinsky said the research shows just how treacherous our rivers can be. “It is a common misconception that inland waterways are safer for swimming than our beaches,” Mr Ilinsky said. “Even seemingly calm waterways can be dangerous. You cannot always see how cold the water is or even judge the strength of the currents. Always enter the water slowly, feet first, and never dive in.” The Royal Life Saving NSW ‘Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown’ campaign was launched last month. The NSW Rivers Research Report and the Drowning in NSW Waterways: Men aged 25 to 34 can be found on the RLS website. At home, at the beach or on the river, please be vigilant and stay Safer this Christmas and New Year – wishing you and your family a wonderful festive season!