Two people with their kayaks standing beside a river

Inland waterways contain many environments where drowning deaths occur – rivers, lakes, dams, irrigation channels, water tanks and creeks have all been sites of drowning deaths.

The flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security. Currents, undertows or submerged objects – even in seemingly tranquil waterways – can prove to be very dangerous.

Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.

Remember that water conditions can change very quickly. What may have appeared safe earlier could become very different a few hours later. Submerged objects, like branches or rocks, are often invisible from above the surface and present a real risk of neck and spinal injuries, especially to divers. Always enter the water slowly, feet first and never dive in. Be aware that cold water can cause hypothermia. Water can also be deeper than first thought due to steep drop-offs in dams or riverbeds.

People of all ages and ability drown in inland waterways. In 2011/12 there were 104 drowning deaths in inland waterways across Australia. Of these 75 occurred in rivers, creeks and streams and 29 in lakes, dams and lagoons.

Did you know that most drowning deaths occur in natural water environments - rivers, lakes, and dams? Don’t be fooled by calm water on a clear day, many seemingly tranquil waterways can present dangerous hazards.

River Safety FAQs

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River Safety Facts

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River Safety Tips

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Swim and Survive on the Swan

The ‘Swim & Survive on the Swan’ project is working in the Western Australian community to promote safe aquatic recreation on the Swan River. A Drowning Prevention Action Plan is being implemented that includes river safety education programs, boating safety programs and public rescue services.

The project will also expand Swim & Survive and Bronze Medallion participation for targeted indigenous, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD), and low socioeconomic communities.

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First Aid Training

Learn first aid from a basic 1 day course to Advance First Aid and Resuscitation Techniques.

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image of Mitch Burdan standing by the pool at Central Aquatic

Mitch's Story

Swim and Survive on the Swan Program Instructor Mitch Burdan is keen to see all West Aussies learn river safety skills