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Inland Waterways

Where most drowning deaths occur

Inland WaterwaysInland waterways contain many environments where drowning deaths occur – rivers, lakes, dams, irrigation channels, water tanks and creeks have all been sites of drowning deaths.

The flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security. Currents, undertows or submerged objects – even in seemingly tranquil waterways – can prove to be very dangerous. Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.

Remember that water conditions can change very quickly. What may have appeared safe earlier could become very different a few hours later. Submerged objects, like branches or rocks, are often invisible from above the surface and present a real risk of neck and spinal injuries, especially to divers. Always enter the water slowly, feet first and never dive in. Be aware that cold water can cause hypothermia. Water can also be deeper than first thought due to steep drop-offs in dams or riverbeds.

People of all ages and ability drown in inland waterways. In 2011/12 there were 104 drowning deaths in inland waterways. Of these 75 occurred in rivers, creeks and streams and 29 in lakes, dams and lagoons.

Click here to download a print friendly version of the Inland Waterways Fact Sheet

Changing seasonal weather patterns, flooding and other effects of nature cause inland waterways to change. Click here for more information on flooding