PEOPLE in Rochester are being bluntly warned that rivers, creeks and streams are the leading locations for drowning in Australia.
And many people are underestimating the dangers.
In Victoria, 74 per cent of all drowning deaths in rivers are locals who drowned within 100km of where they live.
Men are most at risk, with a drowning rate that is four times that of women.
Alarmingly, of the men who drowned, more than half (51 per cent) had a contributory level of drugs or alcohol in their system.
This is why Royal Life Saving Australia is urging us to ‘‘respect the river’’.
Royal Life Saving Society Australia chief executive Justin Scarr said men are prone to taking unnecessary risks.
‘‘As well as over-estimating their abilities, but with the changeable conditions in rivers, this can, and does put their life in danger,’’ he said.
‘‘We are asking people to follow four simple steps to reduce their drowning risk in rivers: wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol and drugs around water, never swim alone and learn how to save a life.
‘‘It’s simple — respect the river.’’
It is often incorrectly assumed that tourists account for the majority of drowning deaths, however, Royal Life Saving research reveals that 74 per cent of people who drowned in the country’s rivers were locals.
“Conditions in rivers can change rapidly. Just because you might regularly visit an area, doesn’t mean the environment will be the same the next time you go,” Mr Scarr said.
“Rivers can be very hazardous environments. Often you cannot see ice cold water, rocks, snags like tree branches or strong currents. It’s vital that people are aware of these hazards and respect the river.”