Wagga residents and tourists are being reminded to take care when swimming in the Murrumbidgee River as beach fever hits the region due to warmer weather arriving earlier than expected.
Wagga Wagga City Council has urged swimmers to take care when exploring lakes, creeks, dams and even swimming pools as families have returned to water-based recreational activities including fishing, camping and kayaking.
The Murrumbidgee River has long been considered one of the most dangerous swimming locations in the country due to its fast currents and murky waters.
The river’s infamous history has led Wagga Wagga City Council’s Manager of Recreation and Economic Development Ben Creighton to encourage the community to take care when taking part in recreational activities, particularly at the Murrumbidgee River.
“The river can change, there are many hidden dangers as well as cold and fast-flowing water,” Mr Creighton said.
“While unfamiliar swimming locations pose an increased risk for visitors, the risks are just as real for locals.”
Mr Creighton said recent research by the Royal Life Saving Society showed that 40 per cent of people who drowned at inland waterways lived within 20 km of the location.
“This tragic figure emphasises that no matter how familiar we think we are with our local river it still poses a risk. Water safety for children is paramount but also needs to be considered by older more experienced swimmers with the research revealing 44 per cent of people who drowned in rivers, creeks, lakes and dams were aged 25 to 54.
“We want the community to enjoy their time in and around water, but we urge them to be prepared, to look out for each other, listen to any advice and warnings, and make good decisions.”
Wagga Wagga City Council has highlighted a number of safety tips for people looking to take a dip:
- Check conditions before entering the water
- Enter the water slowly, feet first
- Take care around crumbling riverbeds and slippery dam edges
- Avoid underwater obstacles such as rocks, branches, and rubbish
- Take care when walking on unstable or slippery riverbeds
- Avoid alcohol and drugs around water
- Wear a lifejacket when boating or using a watercraft
- Always swim with a friend.
To learn more about water safety click here.