Safety around water a priority

31 December 2018

An alarming number of drowning deaths in Victorian waters in December has led to a call for people to be extra vigilant around water.

In December alone there were eight drowning deaths in various waterways including beaches, lakes, waterfalls and inland waterways.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said while Victoria’s beaches and waterways were a huge drawcard for both locals and tourists every year, the need to be vigilant remained.

“Every drowning death is one too many. In December alone eight people lost their lives in Victorian waters. If we are going to take anything away from these deaths, learn from them,” he said.

“Have them in the back of your mind, whether you are at a pool, the beach, or inland. These tragedies emphasise how important it is that people are cautious when in and around the water this summer.

“We are working hard to do what we can to prevent drownings, but we can’t do it alone. Swimmers’ actions play a large part in water safety.

“With New Years’ celebrations taking place tonight across the state, I encourage everyone to make good decision and remember that alcohol and swimming do not mix.

“The government is providing funding to broaden training, Life Saving Victoria is patrolling beaches along with Victoria Police, but ultimately it comes back to individuals making decisions.”

On the weekend the Victorian Government announced a plan to train surfers to save lives in the water, and is on track to be delivered in time for the next summer season.

The new initiative, combined with upgraded facilities for lifesavers, will continue the push to improve water safety and reduce drowning fatalities.

The Surfers Rescue 24/7 program will be delivered at all Victorian boardriders clubs, as well as a modified program in secondary schools.

Surfers Victoria 24/7 teaches surfers critical CPR skills, how to perform board rescues and how to apply basic first aid in the water.

Surfing Victoria will also roll out a version of the program specifically tailored towards assisting scuba divers who find themselves in trouble.

“This is not just eight drowning deaths, this is eight good people that were no doubt looking forward to celebrating the festive season and New Years Eve with families and friends,” Mr Crisp said.

“Those families and friends will now be living with the loss of a loved one for the rest of their lives. Please make good decisions around water.”