Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan launched a new campaign today urging Victorians to avoid risk-taking behaviour such as driving, swimming or playing in floodwater.
Mr Ryan said the important initiative was part of the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) FloodSafe Week campaign running from 30 April to 6 May and would encourage flood risk awareness and preparedness.
“Floodwater is dangerous, you don’t know what you are getting into,” Mr Ryan said.
“We have seen first-hand the devastating effects flooding has had on our community and risk-taking behaviour like driving, swimming or playing in floodwater is just asking for trouble.”
Mr Ryan said from earlier this year widespread flooding had isolated communities, inundated homes and closed hundreds of roads in one of the wettest periods on record for some regions since the late 1800s.
“In the last 18 months alone, both regional and metropolitan Victoria has been hit by extreme and unprecedented rainfall, causing some of the worst floods in the state’s history,” Mr Ryan said.”
Mr Ryan said during the last three major flooding events in Victoria calls for help to the SES jumped ten-fold.
“The message is clear – don’t be fooled. Floodwater may look innocent and placid on the surface, but underneath it is a completely different story. It can change in a minute without warning,” Mr Ryan said.
“Driving through floodwater is the number one cause of adult deaths during floods and playing or swimming in floodwater is just as dangerous, and is the number one cause of child and teenage deaths during floods.
“Aside from the risk of death, floodwater is full of churning toxic waste and hidden debris such as barbed wire and tree branches.
“Even shallow water has enough force to wash your car completely off the road. Once you have lost traction, there is nothing you can do. You can become trapped within seconds.”
Mr Ryan said a new Victorian Government-funded advertising campaign would feature during FloodSafe Week to highlight the hidden dangers lurking within floodwater.
“The catch phrase of this campaign is ‘You don’t know what you’re getting into’, highlighting dangers and targetting risk-taking behaviour such as driving, riding, or playing in floodwater,” Mr Ryan said.
In conjunction with the campaign, SES volunteers will hold events in and around local communities to raise awareness about the dangers of floodwater.
For more information about FloodSafe Week go to www.ses.vic.gov.au.
Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541