Safety at our sites
Stay safe with us in the great outdoors
If you see a hazard or an incident at any of our sites, please let us know by calling our reporting line on 1800 061 069.
In an emergency, please call Police, Fire or Ambulance on 000. For emergency help in flood and storm, call the SES on 132 500.
Every year, thousands of people visit our recreational areas. These are lookouts, picnic areas, camping grounds, tracks and trails. They also spend time on our waterways, at our weirs, dams, lakes and catchments, enjoying recreational activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing and water-skiing.
We want visitors to enjoy our dams, waterways and recreational areas and to stay switched on to safety. Our WaterNSW sites are natural environments, and there are hazards to be aware of.
Here are our top tips for staying safe around some of the hazards you may encounter when visiting our sites:
Check that our sites are open
Before you start your journey, check our website for alerts and updates to ensure that the site you plan to visit is open to the public. Weather events such as storms, floods or fires can pose safety risks, and sites, or the roads leading to them, may be temporarily closed to the public while we make them safe again.
Details about each of our sites, opening hours, and the recreational facilities available can be found on the individual dam pages.
Recent flooding in NSW presents hazards on the roads, on the water and at recreational sites. Check the NSW SES for flood updates, the Bureau of Meteorology for the weather forecast and Live Traffic for major road closures.
Stay safe when driving to and from our sites. Roads and surfaces underneath floodwater can wash away, and may not be visible from the surface. Do not drive, walk or ride through floodwater at any time. Be aware of navigation hazards on our waterways as floodwater may be deeper or faster flowing than it appears and contain hidden snags or debris.
After flooding, the ground will be soggy, and the embankment may be slippery or may have changed. Take care when swimming and check the area beforehand. Diving into the water is not recommended.
Hazard reduction burning and fire safety
Before you head out, check the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) website for fire information updates, including total fire bans or planned hazard reduction burns. Recreational areas at WaterNSW dams may be closed on Total Fire Ban Days or when hazard reduction burns are conducted. Check for any site closures on the relevant dam pages.
Check the weather forecast
Whether you’re heading out for a picnic or a day on the water, checking the Bureau of Meteorology weather forecast will prepare you for the day. The BoM website includes forecasts, current radar and satellite information as well as observations including rainfall and river conditions. For boating, check the marine wind and tides warnings. Remember that the weather can suddenly change, so ensure you have warm clothes and plenty of food and drinking water with you.
Remember that on hot days, it is important to remain well hydrated to minimise the possibility of heat exhaustion. Take plenty of drinking water with you, wear sun protection and a wide-brimmed hat to avoid getting sunburnt. If you feel unwell, find shade, have sips of water and seek medical help if needed.
Road conditions and traffic
The Live Traffic NSW website provides real-time information about roads and changes in traffic conditions which may affect your journey.
Safety on our waterways
For boating and water-based activities, it is important to understand the rules for using NSW waterways, to keep you and others safe. This includes following Maritime Transport for NSW signage and directions. It is vital to know what safety equipment you must carry, including life jackets or personal floatation devices, and flares. How to prevent and respond to incidents and emergencies must also be understood.
Life jackets or personal floatation devices are required to be carried for every person when using the waterways. In the event of an accident, a life jacket will keep an unconscious person’s head above water. It will also reduce the risk of hypothermia due to prolonged water exposure.
Supervising children at our sites
When children are playing, keep them safe by moving well away from the water’s edge. Always supervise children when around water. Wearing an approved life jacket or personal floatation device supports a child if they fall into the water.
Blue green algae
If there is an algae alert at our site, please avoid recreational activities such as swimming, water skiing, canoeing and any other activity that brings you into contact with this waterbody until the alert warning is lifted.
Potentially toxic blue-green algae may cause gastroenteritis if consumed, while contact can cause skin and eye irritations. Consumption of water containing algal toxins may cause liver damage and other health problems. Boiling the water does not remove algal toxins. People who suspect they have been affected by blue-green algae should seek medical advice.
Updates and information about blue-green algae blooms and red level warning areas can be obtained by visiting our algae webpage – or calling 1800 999 457.
Visiting our sites during or after a storm
High winds or electrical storm events can be hazardous. If you’re at one of our sites during or after a storm has passed through, the ground may be soggy, uneven and slippery. Watch out for falling objects such as trees, branches and rocks, and stay away from fallen powerlines.
Flora and fauna
While you’re enjoying our camping grounds, picnic areas, tracks and trails, remember that these are natural habitats for wildlife, birds, animals, reptiles, insects and spiders. Sometimes snakes are seen, especially in the warmer months. If you come across one, just calmly walk away.
The grounds may be covered with twigs, leaves and rocks, and they can be steep, slippery and uneven underfoot. To stay safe, look ahead and watch out for hazards or changes in the ground surface.
The raw water at some of our sites may not be suitable for drinking. We recommend you take plenty of fresh drinking water with you for your visit.
Mosquito numbers are expected to rise this summer due to the extended periods of wet weather across NSW. A number of mosquito-borne diseases have been identified in NSW, most recently Japanese encephalitis (JE). See here for more information and advice on preventing bites.
Consider carrying a first aid kit with you to treat insect bites or stings, burns or minor injuries.
WaterNSW has an automated notification system, the Early Warning Network (EWN), to help you stay safe by notifying you of dam and supply activities. This keeps you up to date in the event of a significant dam release or emergency. Registering for our Early Warning Network (EWN) means you’ll be notified on your mobile via SMS or contacted on your home telephone. You can register with us and choose the dam(s) you would like to be contacted about and which notifications you wish to receive.
WaterNSW acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and pay our respects to all elders past, present and emerging. Learn more