THE highest statewide drowning figures in nearly two decades have prompted calls for caution.
In Victoria, 13 people have drowned since Christmas Day. Life Saving Victoria said that it is the highest holiday death toll recorded in the state for 18 years.
17-year-old Nick Maan was one of the people who tragically died over the holiday period. He died in the waters of Mordialloc Beach on Boxing Day.
Life Saving Victoria is calling for people to be careful around water, even if it looks calm and still.
“Victoria has stunning waterways and it is understandable people are eager to enjoy them, but we ask you to stop and think before rushing in and make safe decisions in, on and around water,” LSV research and evaluation manager Dr Hannah Calverley said. “Inland waterways are particularly risky, with almost half of the 33 reported fatal drownings [between 1 July 2022 and 1 February 2023] occurring in inland waterways, so it is really important to remember that just because a waterway looks flat or calm, does not mean there is no danger.
“Rivers, creeks and dams can have hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface such as currents, sudden drop offs, slippery edges or debris, so even if you are just paddling or wading you could very quickly find yourself out of your depth and in trouble. This is why we urge people to check your skill level against the water conditions and whether you have the ability to swim there. If you do decide to get in the water enter feet first and slowly, read signage to familiarise yourself with risks and if in doubt, don’t go out.”
Dr Calverley says the swimmers can stay safe by visiting patrolled beaches. “Even confident swimmers should go to a patrolled location and swim between the red and yellow flags, where lifesavers can keep an eye on you and potential aquatic risks,” she said. Find a patrolled beach at beachsafe.org.au.