River Safety

We are so fortunate to have the beautiful Nepean River on our doorstep, but it’s important to be talking about safety on the water as the weather gets warmer. Last year 25% of all drowning deaths occurred in our rivers and creeks. 81% of these fatalities were male. The Nepean River was in the news for all the wrong reasons last summer, with three boats overturning at Penrith Weir in less than three months, and one such incident resulting in a young mother from Camden losing her life on Australia Day. Just days later, on January 30, another family was left fighting for their lives after their boat overturned in the exact same spot. After the rescue, NSW Ambulance Acting Inspector Peter Van Praag told The Western Weekender the kids were saved by their life jackets, emphasising the importance of buoyancy devices.

Royal Life Saving, with the support of the Federal Government is addressing these dangers by educating the public about inland waterway safety through the “Respect The River” project. When at the river, whether you’re swimming, boating, or even just enjoying a picnic on the bank, there are many hidden dangers that you may not be aware of. The still surface of a river can give a false sense of security, masking currents, undertows or submerged objects, even when the river seems flat and calm. Slippery banks and uneven surfaces pose further risks, as do seasonal factors, such as freezing water, and floodwater. To minimise the risks, check conditions before entering the water, and enter the water slowly, feet first.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO, Justin Scarr says “With boating and watercraft activity a popular pastime for Australians, we urge people to take the appropriate measures to have an enjoyable and safe time on the water. It’s important to wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol and drugs, be prepared and check conditions, never go alone, and to learn CPR in case something does go wrong”.

The fact that only 25% of Australians know CPR in a country defined by water is of huge concern, and I recommend learning CPR as a must to keep your family safer in case the worst happens around the water.