Stay cool, stay safe this summer
Thursday 30 December, 2021
Parks Victoria is encouraging visitors to pack their summer smarts and stay safe when cooling off in water this summer.
While Victoria’s coastlines are the perfect place to make a splash and cool down this summer, it is important to always keep safety in mind.
Ahead of a forecast heatwave over New Year, Parks Victoria rangers have teamed up with spinal cord injury support organisation AQA Vic to warn of the dangers and long-term impacts of taking risks around water.
Having developed a spinal cord injury after pier jumping as a teenager, Paralympian and AQA spokesperson Nazim Erdem OAM now educates others on water safety dangers.
Jumping and diving off piers and other structures is prohibited on Parks Victoria land for public safety. Be sure to observe all safety signage and barriers when around water. 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 and there can be unexpected sand bars. There also could be hidden debris and obstacles in the water that you can’t see or wasn’t there last time.
Across summer, Environmental Protection Authority Victoria forecasts water quality in Port Phillip Bay and Yarra River. Before you decide when and where to swim, visit EPA’s Beach Report and Yarra Watch to check water quality advice and alerts.
Paralympian Nazim Erdem OAM educates people about the importance of water safety. Credit: AQA Vic
Whether snorkelling, swimming, sailing or canoeing, make sure you are prepared:
Tips for swimming:
• Only swim in areas where swimming is permitted
• Never go into the water by yourself
• Beware of hidden underwater hazards, like strong currents and debris
• Stay within the limits of your training and experience
• Jumping off piers and jetties is dangerous and not permitted
• Beware of swimming near or under waterfalls as this can be dangerous due to strong currents, submerged hidden rock ledges and other hazards
Tips for canoeing and kayaking:
• Prepare carefully. Remember to check river levels and weather conditions with the Bureau of Meteorology ahead of time
• Always let someone know the details of your itinerary. Remember, phone reception may not be available in all areas
• Book or check in with a Licensed Tour Operator if you do not have an experienced canoer, kayaker or rafter in your group
• Make sure you understand life jacket requirements on canoes and kayaks
Tips for snorkelling or diving:
• Consider local weather and sea conditions carefully before getting in the water.
• Always dive or snorkel with a buddy and stay within your skill limits.
Tips for boating and sailing:
• Wear a life jacket when out on the boat
• Know the five: Know the weather, practice getting back on, carry a distress beacon, lock in a buddy plan, and wear a life jacket
Quotes, attributed to Victor Teoh, Manager Regional Operations Southern and Maritime Region, Parks Victoria
“Parks Victoria want to make sure that you enjoy your time in the water and remain safe. While we all have fun spending time in the water, it can be dangerous. Please follow all safety guidelines, and make sure you are well prepared for your trip.”
“The depth under piers and jetties can change due to the tide which creates unexpected sand bars. There can often be debris hidden in the water which you cannot see. Jumping or diving from a pier is never worth the risk.”
Quotes attributed to Nazim Erdem OAM, Australian Quadriplegic Association
“During summer, people love spending time at rivers and beaches, environments we don’t know too well. We love to get in the water quickly and make a splash. To avoid serious and permanent injury, I encourage people to test the water first. Never dive in.”
“I broke my neck diving into shallow water, even though the location was familiar to me. It only takes a split second and a lapse in concentration to end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.”