EMERGENCY MATTERS: Be mindful of water risks this summer

NSW AMBULANCE is reminding people to be careful in and around all forms of water this spring-summer period.

Grafton station paramedic Kristy Afutotoleaegailesolo said warmer temperatures traditionally led to an increase in drowning and near-drowning incidents as people flocked to waterways to cool off.

At the beach, people are reminded to look for rips, swim between the flags and obey instructions from lifeguards.

"Don't enter the water if the surf is big, the weather is poorly or if there is a strong current - and never swim alone," Ms Afutotoleaegailesolo said.

"If you get an uneven bottom, you can easily find yourself out of your depth, well out of your comfort zone and unable to get back to shore."

In relation to creeks, dams and rivers, MsAfutotoleaegailesolo said to always check the water depth and possibility of submerged objects before jumping in.

"A lot of river banks are not necessarily stable. You might enter in a fairly easy place but then find yourself in an area where it is difficult to exit. There could be a lot of reeds and other obstacles.

"Also, if you see a rope tied to a tree hanging over a river or dam, don't automatically assume it is safe to swing out and into the water. Check the depth first."

Ms Afutotoleaegailesolo said there was never a time to be complacent when children and water were involved.

"It only takes a moment for a child to get themselves into trouble, so it is absolutely vital they are supervised vigilantly at all times.

"This remains just as important in public places such as a community pool or the beach. You should never rely on someone else watching the children in your care.

"Anybody who has experienced the horror of a drowning or near- drowning knows it is extremely traumatic for everyone, especially when children are involved."

Ms Afutotoleaegailesolo advised strict adherence to safety guidelines around pools, including keeping gates properly closed, removing items kids could use to climb fences, displaying a CPR chart and knowing what to do in an emergency.

"We encourage everyone to attend an accredited first aid course and learn CPR - this may help you save a life."

NSW Ambulance also advises:

  • In a medical emergency, dial 000 and ask for 'ambulance';
  • Don't expect older children to look after young siblings - children are easily distracted; and
  • Don't drink alcohol before swimming or when supervising children swimming.


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