​​Inland Water Safety

Look before you leap

Check water depth - never dive in head first. Always enter the water slowly.

Photo of Manly dam

Many people drown in NSW's rivers, lakes and dams or are injured after diving into shallow water. If you are unfamiliar with the waterway, ask for advice from someone who is familiar with the area and waterway.

Lake safety

  • Lakes may look calm but are often very dangerous. Strong winds can create choppy conditions making it dangerous for swimming and boating.
  • Strong currents are likely wherever a river enters a lake, and the lake bed may be soft and uneven where silt has been deposited.
  • Cold water in lakes can be lethal. It is often much colder beneath the surface than you think. Suddenly submerging into cold water can cause distress, shock and lack of mobility. If you feel cold, get out of the water immediately.

River safety

  • Never swim in fast-flowing water. Check the speed first by throwing in a twig to see how fast it travels.
  • If you are caught in a current, float on your back and travel downstream, feet first, to protect your head from impact with any objects.
  • Beware of submerged objects. Trees, branches, rocks and discarded rubbish can be very dangerous.
  • Be careful not to stand near the edge of overhanging river banks, which can crumble away.
  • Conditions can change rapidly due to heavy rainfall or the release of water from storage areas. Remember that what is safe in the morning can be dangerous by the afternoon.
  • Watch out for soft or uneven river beds, which can cause difficulties for waders or swimmers.

Dam safety

  • Never dive into a dam
  • Be aware that dam levels may change
  • Beware of submerged objects that may be hidden from view
  • After heavy rains, or after a period of drought, small children may not be aware that water levels have changed.

Alpine safety

  • Alpine waters may be very cold. Risk of hypothermia exists even in summer
  • Unless there is a requirement that a lifejacket must be worn, a lifejacket Type 1 or 2 must be carried. More on Lifejackets.

Children and inland waters

30% of toddler drownings occur in lakes, rivers and dams. You can restrict your child's access to these dangers by creating a "Child Safe Area" in and around your home. Remember dams are dangerous.

The best way to reduce the risk of drowning on a farm is to isolate children from water sources. The most effective method of achieving this is through parental supervision/childcare and the creation of safe play areas that isolate the child from hazards. Non-open bodies of water such as tanks, troughs, sewerage and irrigation channels should be covered and isolated, open bodies of water such as dams may be fenced off. Older children should be enrolled in swimming lessons and have rules set that do not allow them to go near water hazards.

All pools on the farm should be fenced according to the pool fencing standards. More on Pool safety