Coastal Drowning Deaths on the Rise
With all of Australia experiencing a burst of heat, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is urging all aquatic users to remember that water safety needs to be a number one priority.
There have been 29 coastal drowning deaths recorded since 1 December 2017. This represents a 16% increase (4 more) than the same period last summer.
The hot weather, last week of school holidays and the lead into the Australia Day weekend has Surf Life Saving on high alert as the organisation’s volunteers continue to provide services to the beach going community. “This summer has seen far too many tragedies, and we would like to end the holiday period with all going home safe to their families.” said Melissa King, Chief Executive SLSA.
For the summer period, New South Wales has recorded the highest number of coastal drowning deaths for the summer period accounting for 13 of the total, a 44% increase on last year. Victoria has recorded nine, more than four times the number of coastal drowning deaths recorded for the same period last year. South Australia recording four coastal drowning deaths, a 33% increase on last summer.
Five (17%) deaths were children aged 11-15 years of age, significantly higher than the one death for children aged 15 and under for the same period last summer.
Swimming and wading was the major activity being undertaken at the time of drowning, almost three times higher than last summer. Rip currents are believed to have been a contributing factor to approximately 55% of the coastal drowning deaths for the summer period.
Surf lifesavers and lifeguards have been kept busy across the country performing thousands of rescues, first aid and preventative actions during the summer period.
Despite many people being assisted by surf life savers and lifeguard’s, lives continue to be lost and Surf Life Saving is asking the public to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their loved ones.
“We are urging all beachgoers to stop, pause and assess the situation for water safety before swimming this weekend. Your life or that of a loved one may depend on it.” said Ms King.
“We encourage all beachgoers to head to a patrolled beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.” Ms King said.
Surf Life Saving Australia has renewed its call to take the following precautions when recreating in coastal areas this summer:
- Where possible, swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
- Obey the safety signs at the beach
- Learn how to identify a rip current and look for rip currents before deciding where to swim
- If you’re not sure, ask a lifesaver or lifeguard about the beach conditions
- Wear a lifejacket while boating, rock fishing or paddling
- Don’t go into or on the ocean during severe weather warnings
- Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety before entering the water
- Supervise children at all times in, on and around water.
For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit beachsafe.org.au