​​Inland Water Safety

Inland waterways including rivers, lakes, dams, lagoons, channels and creeks pose many safety risks. Royal Life Saving NSW have put together a list of potential dangers for you to be aware of, safety tips to follow, and resources to access. If you’re unsure about the waterway, ask someone who is familiar with the area for advice.


  • Currents and fast-flowing water
  • Submerged objects such as rocks, and tree branches
  • Slippery banks and uneven surfaces
  • Changing seasonal patterns and floodwater
  • Cold water – water temperatures in rivers, lakes and dams can drop to freezing levels in winter and cause cold water shock if you fall in  
  • Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.
This is a photo of a riverbankImage: Courtesy of Royal Life Saving NSW

Safety Tips 

  • Check for currents by throwing a twig or leaf into the water to see the speed it travels
  • Check the depth of the water and look for submerged objects by using a stick 
  • Enter water slowly and feet first 
  • Don’t jump or dive into the water 
  • Take care of slippery or uneven surfaces around or in the water
  • If you are caught in a current, float on your back feet first, and go with the current. Don’t panic.
  • Never swim alone
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol around water
  • Wear a lifejacket
  • Actively supervise children around water. 
  • When on a farm or rural area, create a child safe area to isolate children from water sources
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back, and take a phone with you
  • Learn lifesaving skills