30 September, 2023
Water safety warning for long weekend
WITH warm weather predicted, Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is issuing an urgent water safety warning ahead of this weekend’s AFL Grand Final long weekend.
Statistics show that Victorians’ likelihood of drowning increases by 68 per cent on a public holiday.
This, paired with warming spring temperatures and the risks associated with drinking alcohol before and during water-based activities, has LSV deeply concerned that this weekend could be a high-risk period.
LSV general manager lifesaving services Liam Krige reminded everyone that while the long weekend is a time to relax and celebrate with friends, it is imperative to never drop the ball on water safety.
“Whether you’re watching the big game, or using the long weekend to get away with the family, we want everyone to return home safely, and kick water safety goals this weekend,” Mr Krige said.
“If you’re tuning into the big game by the water, remember that alcohol or other drugs and water-based activities do not mix.”
He said alcohol or other drugs were a known factor in 34 per cent of all drowning deaths of people aged 15 or older in the past decade.
“Alcohol slows your reaction times and can increase risk taking behaviour, so watch out for your mates and make sure they are making smart decisions in, on, and around water,” Mr Krige said.
For those enjoying the holiday home or away, Mr Krige reminded them of the potential hidden dangers both around water, or around the home environment.
“If you’re taking the boat out or going rock fishing, a lifejacket must be part of your plan. Eight in 10 people who drowned while boating or fishing last year were either not wearing a lifejacket, or wearing one incorrectly or that was ill-fitted, so a lifejacket is a non-negotiable for everyone onboard or on the rocks,” he said.
“For those going camping, enjoying a picnic, or even relaxing at home, any body of water, no matter how innocuous it seems can pose a risk, especially for children.
“Eskies containing melted ice, pet bowls, plugged baths, dams and ponds can all be a hazard, and it takes just 20 seconds for a child to drown in as little as a few centimetres of water, so active supervision is key.”
He urged parents to keep children under the age of five in arms reach and those under the age of 10 in constant and direct eyeline.
Tragically, 59 people drowned during 2022-23, including 31 per cent in or around the home, which represents 59 families missing a loved one during this long weekend’s celebrations.
“While anyone can drown, no-one should,” Mr Krige said.
“Drowning is preventable, so never underestimate the risks around water or overestimate your abilities.”