Enjoy local swimming spots safely!
We are incredibly fortunate living in Penrith to have a huge variety of swimming locations available to us, and Jellybean pool in the Blue Mountains is one of my favourite places. However there are specific safety considerations when swimming there, or in any other unpatrolled nature spots.
Inland water ways including rivers, creeks and streams continue to be a leading location for drowning in NSW due to the unpredictable nature of these environments. 80 drowning deaths occurred in these locations in 2018/19, a 5% increase on the 10 year average. 85% of the people who drowned were male.
So what can we do to make these beautiful locations safer for all?
Whilst jumping from cliffs, rocks or rope swings can be great fun, you must always check what lies beneath the surface before jumping. Rock formations are unpredictable and there can often be one large boulder in the middle of an otherwise deep pool.
Currents can push logs or other large pieces of debris can wash down from upstream meaning that what was safe to jump into yesterday can be hazardous today, especially after the high volume of rainfall we have recently experienced. Heavy rainfall anywhere within the river catchment can cause flash flooding, which may heavily affect the behaviour of the water as well.
Thought needs to be given to entry and exit points as once washed down a flowing stream it may be impossible to return to the original point of entry and river banks further downstream may be steep, overgrown or slippery.
Then there’s the basics – make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen, don’t drink alcohol, never swim alone, supervise children at all times, be aware of any impending weather changes forecast, especially storms, and beware of the local wildlife (particularly of the snakes and spiders variety)! Educate yourself if swimming outside of your local area – we don’t have to worry about crocodiles or box jellyfish at Jelly Bean pool, but that might not be the case if visiting Darwin or Cairns!
Bottom line is, if you use your common sense, look out for one another, swim within the limits of your ability, and are well prepared, a day spent swimming in nature can be a wonderful experience.