Stay safe in open water

22 December 2016

With extreme heat forecast over the next week, Mayor Kevin Mack has added his voice to the river safety message, urging all residents and visitors to Albury to take care in open water.

Cr Mack says the Murray at Albury is one of the city's most beautiful assets, but it's also one of its most dangerous and people should be aware of hazards - many of which are hidden before they take to the water.

"Swimming and canoeing in the Murray River is a great pastime but the river environment has a number of risks," he said. "The current is very fast, the water is cold and there are submerged objects."He said simple safety precautions can save a life and offers this advice to swimmers and canoeists:

  • Never swim alone. Always swim with someone or in a group and inform people before entering the water.    
  • 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 dangerous.      
  • Be careful not to stand near the edge of overhanging river banks, which can crumble away.  
  • Remember conditions can change rapidly.  
  • If you are not a strong swimmer, consider using one of the public pools  

Cr Mack urged people to follow the advice of experienced local paddler Tony Zerbst, who has spent more than 40 years paddling the Murray. Mr Zerbst's advice to anyone considering paddling or floating down the river is simple: 

  • Always wear a lifejacket    
  • Take a mobile phone in a waterproof container  
  • Make sure that someone knows your plans  
  • Before you set off, familiarise yourself with the course and the time it will take  

Cr Mack also says “Royal Life Saving has developed the Respect the River program which aims to increase awareness of the dangers of the inland waterways and identifies precautions you can take if you want to swim in these waters. Apart from providing facts and figures on deaths the informative website uses Local People to tell local stories on river safety in their area”.

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