When the weather gets hot, our beaches, lakes and rivers across the state become popular places to swim, paddle and have fun in the water. However, it's important to be aware of the risks of swimming in nature.

Tragically, people drown each year in lakes, beaches, rivers, waterfalls and bays across Victoria. 

Follow these safety precautions around water to make sure your visit is safe and enjoyable.

Top tips to stay safe in and around the water:

  • Know the conditions. Know your limits.
  • Only swim where permitted.
  • Do not swim by yourself.
  • Always wear a lifejacket when boating.
  • Never swim near waterfalls.
  • Do not jump off piers and jetties.
  • Observe all safety signage and barriers.

Rock fishing safety

Rock fishing is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, but it’s also risky. And tragically, several people drown each year after being swept off rocks.

To help ensure every rock fisher returns home safely to family and friends, you must wear a life jacket when fishing at 10 high-risk zones along the Victorian coast.

A two-year trial of a lifejacket mandate is complete; however, the rules remain in place to keep fishers safe.

This includes new zones, extended zones and four existing sites.

See the Be safe when rock fishing factsheet (PDF) for maps and more information.

Find out more about the trial at the Victorian Fisheries Authority website.


Beaches may have hazards such as rips, strong undertows and sudden changes in weather conditions. Stay safe at the beach by only swimming where there are lifeguards and by staying in between the red and yellow flags.

Visitors to ocean beaches may encounter steep cliffs, slippery rocks, strong ocean currents and large waves. Park visitors and beachgoers should always follow warning signs and advice even if you are not planning to go in the water and watch out for changing weather and ocean conditions. Wear a lifejacket when boating or fishing.

Find out what beach conditions are like before you go - access the latest detailed beach information such as patrol status, facilities and hazards, weather, swell and tide, with the Surf Life Saving Beachsafe app and website.

Rivers and lakes

On inland waterways such as rivers and lakes, never jump in before checking for hidden dangers  like strong fast-flowing currents, colder than expected water temperature and submerged branches and debris. For example, see how fast the water is flowing by looking at water ripples and things floating downstream. But be aware, there could also be strong currents under the water that you can’t see. Don’t jump in if you can’t see what’s under the surface of the water.

Always wear a lifejacket when boating. Never go into the water after consuming alcohol.


Waterfalls look beautiful and are very popular spots to visit, but it is not safe to swim under or near them. The water at the base of a waterfall can be deep and very cold and the force of the falling water can trap you underwater and cause difficulties for even very strong swimmers. Rocks around waterfalls are often wet and slippery so it is easy to slip and fall in the water or down a cliff, leading to serious injuries. There are often safety barriers around waterfalls – don’t climb over the barriers, they are there to keep you safe.

Piers and jetties

Jumping and diving off piers and other structures is prohibited for public safety. Be sure to observe all safety signage and barriers. Don't assume that water under a pier or jetty will be deep enough to jump or dive into safely - it may be shallower than you think. Water depth under piers and jetties changes frequently due to the force of the tide and can create unexpected sand bars. There also could be hidden debris and obstacles in the water that you can’t see, or weren’t there last time. Do not assume it is safe to jump or dive in.

Jumping or diving into shallow water can lead to life-changing injuries and/or permanent disability.

Learn more

See more details in our Visitor safety tips in parks, or visit Life Saving Victoria’s Play it Safe by the Water website.

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