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Police issue safety message ahead of summer influx

Summer brings an influx of visitors and campers to the Murray River at Echuca-Moama. Photo by Geoff Adams

Echuca-Moama is leading up to its busiest season when visitors descend on the twin towns and the Murray River.

It’s also a time when things can go wrong and people can get themselves into trouble, police on both sides of the river are reminding the community and visitors.

When it comes to camping, Echuca Senior Sergeant Mick Carroll said, like everything, most people were fantastic.

Murray River Police District Inspector Paul Huggett. Photo: Cath Grey Photo by Cath Grey

“But what we do notice is we get trouble with people who go camping and drink too much alcohol,” he said. “We want people to enjoy themselves but in moderation on the alcohol front.

“Campers should also tell people where they’re going and when they expect to get back; it’s always a good thing to know if someone’s overdue and people can start making inquiries.

“People need to be mindful of how hot it can get, make sure they have plenty of water and watch out for snakes, falling limbs on trees and things like that.”

Meanwhile Murray River Police District Inspector Paul Huggett issued some common sense reminders.

“Leave the campsite as you found it, be respectful of other campers, follow warning signs and don’t go to areas you’re not allowed to,” he said.

“If it’s a bushfire danger period don’t light the fire because if you do there’s plenty of fuel on the ground.

“Have that respect for self and others and leave the grounds as you found them.

“In and around water, respect the Murray, ensuring we’re not swimming without floatation devices, while intoxicated, all of those things; that’s how our communities are drowning,” he said.

Echuca Senior Sergeant Mick Carroll. Photo by Ivy Jensen

The Murray River is a great drawcard for the region, but Snr Sgt Carroll said people needed to be mindful of how dangerous it could be, especially for inexperienced people.

“There’s a lot of water in the river and a lot of snags, there’s logs that float downstream just under the surface people can’t see,” he said.

“There’s a lot of boating activity and they may not see people in the water.

“Life jackets are a very good idea if you’re going out for a swim.”

With more people able to get out and about, especially once Melburnians and Sydneysiders can leave the confines of the city in coming weeks, local roads will see more traffic than Echuca-Moama has been used to recently.

“There’s expected to be high traffic flows across the region and police will be out in force accordingly,” Insp Huggett said.

“It’s incumbent on all people in the car to ensure safe driving behaviour.

“If the front passenger isn’t stopping the driver from texting or challenging speeding, dangerous overtaking or fatigue, realistically they’re playing Russian roulette.”

Snr Sgt Carroll echoed the main issues; fatigue, speed and mobile phones.

“We have a lot of incidents on country roads where people aren’t really familiar with them,” he said.

“Things like crossroads sneak up on people so they do need to be alert.

“Driving long distances, we do find fatigue’s a real issue, people should be taking a break if they’re feeling a bit drowsy.

“You see people speed past but they only beat you by two minutes wherever they’re going; if you obey the law you get there on time, you reduce the risks and everyone’s happy. People also shouldn’t be using their mobile phone while driving.

“We just want people to come to town and enjoy themselves, if they stay in Echuca itself, they’ll see plenty of police about and we don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, we just want to make people feel safe and happy in town.

“Don’t drink too much, behave appropriately, and keep everyone happy.”