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Safety Information
Freshwater Swimming Holes in Victoria

water safety thumbnail Some of the swimming holes on this website may not be suitable for inexperienced swimmers or children. You can only drown once, so don’t take any chances. If you sense that you are out of your depth, return to where you feel comfortable, even if that means dry land. Water safety advice is available from the State Government through its “Play it safe by the water” campaign, details of which are available on the website http://www.watersafety.vic.gov.au. The site has specific safety tips for inland waters and is recommended reading for any swimmer. In particular, remember the following:

- If you drink and dive, you’re a bloody idiot. Alcohol and swimming don’t mix. Statistics from the Royal Life Saving Society in Australia regularly and repeatedly show that alcohol is a major risk factor in drownings. Drink a water or a non-alcoholic beverage, and save the alcohol until you celebrate getting home safely after a great day in the water.
- Always heed warning signs. If you see one then it is there for a reason and you could be endangering your health or your life if you disobey them.
- Always enter the water feet first. Diving head first into unknown waters is dangerous. Wear a pair of sandals or swimming shoes to protect your feet if you can’t see the bottom, which will also help to protect against any broken glass that may be in the water.
- Avoid visiting swimming holes alone. If you visit swimming holes alone, no one is going to rescue you or call emergency services if you get into difficulty in or out of the water.
- If you are caught in a strong current, it is often better to swim across the current to safety, not against it.
- Always wait an hour after eating before swimming to avoid stomach cramps.
- Use a sunscreen to avoid sunburn and skin cancer.
- Use an insect repellant, particularly if you are travelling into bush or jungle.
- Don't swim in algal blooms. The toxins in some blue-green algae have been recognised as a cause of motor neurone disease for several years now, and recent research has linked these toxins to an increased risk of a range of other brain disorders.
- The amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which can be found in warm fresh waters throughout the world, is a cause of meningitis encephilitis in children. The highest risk occurs when untreated water is squirted up the nose, either through water play or by jumping into water. It only affects children, because the barrier between the nasal passage and the brain is weaker in children. Whilst infection is very rare, the condition is fatal.
- Beware of animal hazards, such as snakes. Animal hazards are generally site specific, so heed warning signs and research local swimming safety information if you are visiting an area where you do not know or understand the local animal hazards.
- Be extra careful when it rains. After heavy rain, rivers can swell quickly. Roads can be cutoff and washed away, so if the weather is wet, take extra care and seek advice from emergency services in your local area.
- Be extra careful during bushfire weather. Seek advice from emergency services in your local area during days of high fire danger. If you sense any fire danger, act early and act quickly, as fire can move very fast. Plan alternative exit routes in remote areas before you visit your swimming hole.
- Many of the swimming holes on this site are in remote areas with no mobile phone coverage, so don't rely on your mobile phone in remote areas. If you need phone coverage in remote areas, buy yourself a satellite phone.

- Above all, use your common sense. Conditions can change rapidly. Continually re-assess the risks and act accordingly, which may include deciding not to swim. In addition to the above checklist, do your own independent safety planning and risk management before you visit your swimming hole.

If you enjoy the swimming holes on this website, do your best to preserve them for others to enjoy, or to come back to yourself.
- Take your rubbish with you if bins are not provided.
- If there are no toilets and you need to go, dig a hole at least 100 m away from the water and bury whatever you produce.

© Brad Neal 2018. All rights reserved.