As temperatures start to heat up and Canberrans look for places to cool off, the government has reminded the public to stay safe in the water and refresh their knowledge about what to do in an emergency.
After two drownings in the ACT, and 98 in NSW during the last year financial year, the Stay Safe Summer campaign wants people to stay aware while swimming during the summer season and minimise risky behaviour around creeks and rivers.
The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) has launched the campaign in partnership with the ACT Government.
“Canberra has some great spots that are easy to access making them particularly popular during the summer months. Two people drowned in the ACT in the past year, both in inland waterways. That is two people too many,” said the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Yvette Berry, who wants Canberrans to enjoy taking a dip, but safely.
“While the scorching summer heat often sees Canberrans escape to the coast, it is important to be aware that the dangers of rivers, creeks and streams can be just as hazardous. Inland waterways are the main sites of drowning fatalities in Australia.”
Royal Life Saving ACT CEO Cherry Bailey says if you are not sure about your swimming ability then it is best to head towards supervised areas.
“Our biggest concern heading into summer every year is the significant number of people who do get into trouble,” she said.
“We encourage people to know their abilities and limitations and to investigate swimming and first aid programs to build their skills. If you are unsure, it is best to visit the well-supervised ACT Public Pools to cool off, rather than unpatrolled waterways.”
New strategies are being used to help prevent drownings this summer, targeting people of all ages and backgrounds, and the RLSS and Territory government are working together on a pilot program to target different cultures within the community.
Locations for two permanent emergency response beacons at two sites across Canberra are also being scouted to help emergency workers respond to incidents more effectively.
Additional water safety tips, safety programs and information on first aid courses can be found at www.royallifesaving.com.au/act.