It may almost be the silly season, but there is nothing silly about water safety.
That’s why the Central Highlands Regional Council, SunWater and the Emerald Police are teaming up to spread the word about the risks of trespassing and the potential hazards when visiting dams, weirs and water channels.
Senior Sergeant Peter McFarlane said it was a timely reminder approaching the summer season of the dangers associated with swimming in our local waterways.
‘The weirs, in particular, present dangers with under currents and debris that can’t be seen,’ he said.
‘Heavy rainfall causes the weirs to overflow, and fast. It was only a few years ago where we saw a terrible accident that resulted in a man drowning at the top weir due to a strong undercurrent.
‘I urge all parents to speak with their children about the dangers of swimming around weirs and also discourage jumping from bridges and other water infrastructure, as the last thing our community needs is a tragic accident this summer season.’
Snr Sgt McFarlane also reminded residents that some areas are illegal to swim in, due to exclusion zones.
Councillor Alan McIndoe echoed his advice, encouraging parents to make sure their kids understand the hidden dangers and the meaning behind warning signs.
‘It’s about community safety and child safety,’ he said.
‘Council and SunWater have put these signs in place for a reason, but they’re no good if young people don’t take them seriously and just ignore them.
‘I have teenage kids, I know what they can be like. I know sometimes it feels like you’re talking to a brick wall. But what may seem like a bit of harmless fun around a weir or dam can end in absolute devastation, as we’ve seen before. Take the time, have a chat and set a good example.
‘There are heaps of great places to safely go swimming in our region, so why would you risk it?’
SunWater launched a safety campaign earlier this year aimed at reducing trespassing and dangerous behaviour at weirs, dams and channels.
A video was produced for the campaign to highlight the potentially tragic consequences for teenagers taking risks in and around waterways.
SunWater Executive General Manager Operations Colin Bendall said the campaign primarily targeted teenagers and young adults and is a sobering reminder for young people to play safe and look after their mates.
‘Too often we receive reports of young people ignoring safety signs and engaging in risky behaviour,’ he said.
‘Dams, weirs and channels can be unpredictable and dangerous – particularly in more remote locations where there aren’t designated swimming areas. Everyone needs to stay vigilant. Read the warning signs, beware of hidden dangers and take care of the people around you.’
Tips for staying safe at dams, weirs and channels
- Look for hidden dangers – Check for submerged stumps, rocks or weeds before entering water
- Keep a safe distance – stay at least 200 metres away from dam and weir walls
- Read the signs – they contain important information about hazards and restricted areas
- Remain aware – stay alert to potential dangers and keep a close eye on friends and family
For more information on SunWater’s safety campaign and to watch their video, click here.