12 November 2010
Weir Safety Campaign launched in time for Summer
Water Grid representatives today pleaded with the community and particularly young people to be aware of the dangers of swimming in weirs and fast flowing water. The call came as part of the in-school launch of this year’s ‘No Lifeguards Here’ weir safety campaign.
The State MP for Pumicestone Carryn Sullivan welcomed the launch of the campaign. “It is important that our young people can stay safe while having fun this Summer. I’m pleased that this campaign is providing information to encourage everyone to make safer choices”.
During periods of heavy rain, an overflowing weir can easily become a dangerous place. Increased water volume and pressure can force people underwater - making rescue almost impossible.
Water Grid spokesperson, Dan Spiller, said members of the public need to be aware of the dangers of swimming in weirs and flooded waterways.
“The tragic drowning of 12-year-old Caboolture State High student at Caboolture Weir 18 months ago, sadly highlights the dangers of playing in and around weirs,” Mr Spiller said.
“Weirs are dangerous and unpredictable places. They are designed and built to serve a purpose – to regulate water flow. Swimming in weirs can be fatal.”
As part of the Water Grid, the state’s bulk water supply authority, Seqwater, is responsible for 49 weirs along with 24 dams and 46 operational water treatment plants across South East Queensland.
Mr Spiller said safety at these assets is a key focus for operations at the Water Grid.
“Many people fail to realise that swimming skills have little to do with surviving a flooded weir,” Mr Spiller said.
“The facts are that it only takes ankle deep water to knock you off your feet, and only 60 seconds to drown – not enough time for someone to call 000.
“Educating young people to ‘rethink’ their behaviour is key to preventing future drowning tragedies in weirs.”
The “No Lifeguards Here” safety campaign has been designed to highlight the fact that weirs are secluded places that are not patrolled or supervised by anyone.
The campaign has been developed with input and support from Hannah’s Foundation, Australia’s leading drowning prevention, awareness and support group, Queensland Fire and Rescue, and Emergency Management Queensland (SES).
A mix of outdoor, print and cinema advertising, along with signs at key weir locations are planned.
Hannah’s Foundation executive officer, and author of the Brandi Allen Positive Choices program, Ms Katherine Plint said ongoing education of the risks, dangers and consequences that exist around water is vital to the prevention of further drowning accidents.
“Our Positive Choices program is directed at young teens to help them make sensible choices when it comes to water. It is not water that kills people, it is their choices. It only takes a second to rethink a choice and make it positive one or it could sadly end in tragedy. Choices in life have consequences and young people swimming in waterbodies need to know their limitations.
“We fully support the Water Grid and Seqwater’s weir safety campaign, and have endorsed the new warning signs being installing at key weir locations around the region.”
Statement from Deanna Allen: Brandi Allen’s mum
“Seqwater and Hannah's Foundation have my full support to educate children on the dangers of swimming in weirs and flooded waterways. Even though my daughter could swim it didn’t save her as the water was too strong - kids need to know this. The ‘Positive Choices’ and ’No Lifeguards Here’ campaigns, along with the new weir warning signs Seqwater has adopted, is a testament to their drive for drowning prevention in Queensland. My daughter Brandi drowned in a weir and I do not want the grief, horror or loneliness since losing her to happen to any other family. My daughter made the wrong choice and it cost her, her beautiful life.”