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Inland Water Safety
Look Before You Leap
Many people drown in Victoria’s rivers, lakes and dams or are paralysed after diving into shallow water. The best way to check it’s OK to swim is to ask someone who knows the area, such as a shopkeeper, caravan park owner or park ranger.
- Lakes may look calm but are often very dangerous. Strong winds can create choppy conditions making it dangerous for swimming and boating.
- Strong currents are likely wherever a river enters a lake, and the lake bed may be soft and uneven where silt has been deposited.
- Cold water in lakes can be lethal. It is often much colder beneath the surface than you think. Suddenly submerging into cold water can cause distress, shock and lack of mobility. If you feel cold, get out of the water immediately.
- Never swim in fast-flowing water. Check the speed first by throwing in a twig to see how fast it travels.
- If you are caught in a current, float on your back and travel downstream, feet first, to protect your head from impact with any objects.
- Beware of submerged objects. Trees, branches, rocks and discarded rubbish can be very dangerous.
- Be careful not to stand near the edge of overhanging river banks, which can crumble away.
- Conditions can change rapidly due to heavy rainfall or the release of water from storage areas. Remember that what is safe in the morning can be dangerous by the afternoon.
- Watch out for soft or uneven river beds, which can cause difficulties for waders or swimmers.