Water safety

Swimming is a very popular pastime for many Australians, and this country is home to some of the best beaches and swimming spots there are. However, going swimming without understanding the dangers of the ocean and/or your strength as a swimmer can have disastrous consequences. Therefore, it is VERY important for you to be aware of the rules and the risks of swimming in our oceans and rivers, and of your strength as a swimmer. Calm waters does not always equal safe swimming.

Below is some important information you should consider before making a trip to the beach:

Beach Swimming Safety

  • Always Swim Between the Flags

    Any beach can be dangerous. Beach-goers should be careful and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which indicate that the beach is patrolled. When swimming between the red and yellow flags, always look back to the beach to check that you are still between the flags. If you choose to swim outside these flags, you could be moving into a more dangerous location.

  • Check if it is a patrolled beach

    Patrolled beaches are identified by red and yellow flags. 67 of Victoria's most popular beaches have lifesaving patrols during the summer months.

  • What if a beach is not patrolled?

    As beaches are not patrolled every day of the year, please remember to:

    • Check that it's okay to swim
    • Never swim alone
    • Read and obey water safety signs

Inland Water Swimming Safety

  • Look Before You Leap

    It is often difficult to tell how deep or shallow a lake or river is simply by looking at it. The best way to check if it's OK to swim is to ask someone who knows the area, such as a shopkeeper, caravan park owner or park ranger.

  • Lake Safety
    • Lakes may look calm but are often very dangerous. Strong winds can create choppy conditions making it dangerous for swimming and boating.
    • Strong currents are likely wherever a river enters a lake, and the lake bed may be soft and uneven where silt has been deposited.
  • River Safety
    • 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 very dangerous.
    • Conditions can change rapidly due to heavy rainfall or the release of water from storage areas. Remember that what is safe in the morning can be dangerous by the afternoon.

For more information, visit the Water Safety Victoria and Surf Life Saving Australia websites.