Water Safety in and around Inland Waterways

14 Jul 2022
Aquatics Swimming Lessons, Things To See & Do

One of life’s greatest pleasures may be enjoying a leisurely swim in natural waterways such as lakes and rivers, but do you know what hazards to look out for and how to stay safe when you visit an inland waterway? 

Inland waterways are found all across Australia and include rivers, creeks, lakes, wetlands, dams, reservoirs, waterfalls, waterholes and several other bodies of water. Prone to poor water clarity, biohazards such as algal blooms, sharp objects underfoot, undetected water currents, undertows and many other potential hazards, it is vital to know what to look out for in these settings and how to stay safe in and around these waters. 

In 2021, the Royal Life Saving Society reported that 26% of drowning incidents occurred in rivers and creeks, showing a 53% increase on the previous year and serving as the main cause of drownings, even greater than recorded drownings in beach and ocean settings. Often taking place in inland waterways, boating was among the top second activity that led to 15% of total drownings. 

Whilst enjoying any recreational activities in inland waterways, such as boating, swimming, wading or land activities, it is always important to be alert and observant. Remember too, that the conditions of waterways can be continuously changing, and that they are not patrolled by lifeguards. 

To avoid dangers and the risk of drowning in inland waterways, consider what you can do to support yourself, your family and your peers to stay safe, such as learning to swim and building confidence in the water, learning how to identify hazards, and knowing what to do in case of emergency. 

Follow these top tips for water safety next time you visit an inland waterway: 

  • Check conditions of inland waterways before entering, including checking the water depth with a branch or stick 
  • Enter the water slowly with feet first, do not rush  
  • Wear protective river shoes and be cautious of underwater obstacles and hazards such as rocks, branches and sharp rubbish 
  • Always wear a life jacket when boating or using watercraft  
  • Do not cross flooded waterways 
  • If in doubt of safety, don't enter the water 
  • Don't take risks, especially if you are in a remote area and far away from help 
  • Take a First Aid kit with you on your inland waterway adventures in case of an injury or emergency. 

Learn more about specific water safety advice for different inland waterway settings and how to observe different water safety signage in our exclusive GOswim Waterways Adventure - ‘How to stay safe in waterways’ information booklet below. 

OR, you can follow our official GOswim Facebook page or Instagram account for regular tips and advice on swimming and water safety, and lots more! 


Want to join our Waterways Adventure? Enrol your child in GOswim lessons this term and collect an exclusive Waterways Adventure sticker for every lesson you attend. Weave your way through different waterways and learn important safety lessons for each along the journey! 


For more information on Royal Life Saving’s key findings and research on Australian drownings, visit https://www.royallifesaving.com.au/research-and-policy/drowning-research/national-drowning-reports  

TripAdvisor Panel

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