ALMOST 1000 people have drowned in a river, creek or stream in the past 13 years. This makes rivers the leading location for drowning in Australia.
All types of people are drowning in rivers, from the young children to the elderly. What is most alarming is that almost three-quarters of people who drowned in rivers were close to their home and most were male.
So why are so many drowning in our local rivers?
The flat, still surface of a river gives a false sense of security. You cannot see ice-cold water, snags such as tree branches or strong currents but they can be lethal.
Dangerous activities such as consuming alcohol, driving through floodwaters and not wearing a lifejacket are also adding to the alarming figures.
To lose a loved one so close to home when the death could have been prevented is heartbreaking.
People need to act responsibly around rivers and avoid any behaviour that may increase the risk of drowning.
Royal Life Saving Society - Australia has launched a campaign to save lives on rivers and is asking people when enjoying our rivers to always wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol around water, never swim alone and learn lifesaving skills. It is simple, respect the river. To get more safety information readers can go to www.royallifesaving.com.au/ respecttheriver JUSTIN SCARR, chief executive, Royal Life Saving Society - Australia.