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Water Safety Tips for Travellers

Australia has many beautiful waterways but you need to be aware of the hazards and your own swimming ability before entering the water.

An average of 279 people drown in Australian waterways every year. People born overseas (tourists, international students, and residents) account for 27% of these drowning deaths.

Australia has many different waterways to enjoy, including swimming pools, rivers, lakes, waterholes and beaches. All have different hazards that you need to watch out for, so please follow these tips to stay safe around the water.

Key Water Safety Tips in all Locations

  1. Actively supervise children around water

  2. Wear a lifejacket when boating or fishing

  3. Avoid alcohol around water

  4. Never go in the water alone

  5. Check conditions before entering the water

Do not enter the water if you are a weak or non swimmer. Even standing in shallow water can be dangerous if you lose your footing due to currents, rips, waves, or changing depths.

Water Safety at Pools

  • If you are going to a public pool, ask the front desk staff or lifeguard for safety advice

  • When enjoying the pool at an accommodation location, please be mindful that most of these venues do not have lifeguards or staff present

  • Follow pool safety signs

  • Check the depth of the pool, and be aware of where the pool depth may change

Water Safety at Lakes, Rivers and Other Inland Waterways

  • These areas do not have lifeguards so take an experienced person with you when you visit, and do not overestimate your ability in the water.

  • Inland waterways can often be in isolated, remote locations where there may not be mobile phone reception.

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back, and bring safety equipment with you.

  • Check for currents before entering the water.

  • Enter slowly and feet first into the water.

  • Don’t jump or dive into the water.

  • Be careful of slippery banks and uneven surfaces

  • If you are caught in a current, float on your back feet first, and go with the current. Don’t panic

Visit Respect the River to learn more about inland waterway safety.

Water Safety at Beaches

  • Always swim at a lifeguard patrolled beach in between the red and yellow flags – this is the safest place to swim.

  • Ask the lifeguards and lifesavers about the conditions and safety advice

  • If you get into trouble, stay calm and signal for help

  • If you see someone in trouble, do not go into the water yourself, alert a lifeguard if nearby or phone 000 and ask for police

  • Be aware of rip currents. Learn how to spot a rip current and what to do if you get into trouble.

  • Check weather conditions and surf warnings, and avoid entering the water during dangerous conditions.

  • Some Australian beaches are closed at certain times of year due to dangerous marine life (e.g. jellyfish). Swim in the designated areas and ask a lifeguard if you are unsure. Seek first aid treatment straightaway if you are stung or bitten.

  • Visit Beach Safe for more information on beach safety.

Floodwater Safety

  • Follow local emergency services instructions

  • Avoid driving through floodwaters, take a safer driving route instead

  • Never swim in flooded waterways. Conditions can change rapidly and waterways can be filled with debris

No photo is worth your life! When travelling you naturally want to capture every moment to remember, but do not put yourself at risk. Many tourists have died taking photos in risky locations and have fallen off cliffs or being swept off rocks.

What to do in an Emergency

  1. If someone is in trouble, contact emergency services on 000.

  2. Check for danger to yourself and the victim in trouble. Do not enter the water if there is a risk to your safety. Learn more about rescue safety here.

  3. Commence CPR immediately once the victim has been pulled from the water

How to perform emergency CPR

Watch the below videos to learn how to perform CPR on an infant, child, or adult.

These videos are for training purposes only. In an emergency call 000 and ask for their advice.

We recommend completing a resuscitation training course with Royal Life Saving to learn in depth CPR skills.

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