Seqwater is reminding boaties to stay safe when on the water in response to an increasing number of boating-related drownings in inland waterways.
The warning comes as recent figures from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s National Drowning Report show 46 people drowned while out boating between July 2015 and June 2016.
Drowning deaths attributable to boating in inland waterways recorded an increase of 30 per cent on the 10-year average of 10 drowning deaths, with all other activities either remaining steady or decreasing.
In all locations across Australia, 74 people had been swimming when tragedy struck, while 39 lost their lives after falling into water.
Seqwater Acting Chief Executive Officer Jim Pruss said the report was a timely reminder for people to play it safe when visiting South East Queensland’s lakes as the weather starts to warm up.
“More than 2.6 million people visit Seqwater’s dams, lakes and parks each year and thousands of them are boat owners,” Mr Pruss said.
“With the summer season approaching, an increasing number of people will be visiting our lakes and parks to enjoy the excellent recreational opportunities these areas provide.
“Our Seqwater rangers do a great job in patrolling our lakes and parks, but they can’t be everywhere to help, so it’s important visitors know what to do to keep themselves safe.”
Seqwater compliance officer and shipping inspector Amber Blake, who regularly patrols lakes Wivenhoe and Somerset, said an increasing number of boaties were neglecting the importance of lifejackets.
“Boaties are required to have a lifejacket for every person aboard their vessel,” Ms Blake said.
“Unfortunately we are finding a lot of people stash their lifejackets away on their boat and forget about them.
“The problem is, if an emergency happens, the jackets may be hard to access or have deteriorated to the point they are no longer safe.
“A lifejacket could be the one safety item that saves your life, so it’s important to plan ahead and have them readily accessible on board.”
Ms Blake said other safety issues included people driving jet skis and boats while unlicensed and people ignoring speed and distance rules from other moving boats and people in the water.
“Spring and summer are the busiest months on our lakes, so we ask users to exercise patience and be mindful of other people out on the water.
Mr Pruss said Seqwater had been encouraging the community to plan ahead and consider their safety when visiting the region’s dams, lakes and parks through initiatives like the Play it safe public education campaign.
He encouraged lake-goers to visit the Seqwater website before leaving home.
“Our website features recreation and safety notices about events or planned work at our recreation areas, as well as some simple tips on how to have fun while playing it safe.”
For more information visit seqwater.com.au