Following the unfortunate death of a scuba diver in Torquay last weekend, SLSA urges all snorkellers and scuba divers to think twice about their safety. The ‘Coastal Safety Brief on Snorkelling and Scuba Diving’ presents information on these activities, which have become more prominent in coastal drowning statistics in recent years.
Recreating on Australian beaches is a favourite past-time for millions of people. Scuba diving and snorkelling are a major part of recreational and organised activity along our coasts.
Approximately 1.9 million Australian adults participate in snorkelling and 400,000 participate in scuba diving, with frequent participants spending around 195 hours in the water each year snorkelling and 90 hours in the water scuba diving.
In addition, around 700,000 international tourists snorkel or scuba dive on Australian beaches and offshore reefs (Tourism Research Australia, 2018).
During the 14-year period between 2004 and 2018 there have been 163 recorded drowning deaths of scuba divers and . On average, seven people drown as a result of snorkelling annually, and four people drown as a result of scuba diving, resulting in an average of 11 drowning deaths annually.
The majority of victims were male (85% for snorkelling and 78% for scuba diving), with an average age of between 40 and 45. More than half (69%) of these incidents occurred more than 5km from a lifesaving service.
Other key findings include:
- 59% of victims undertaking snorkelling lived more than 50km from the drowning location
- of victims undertaking scuba diving were more than 500m from the coastline
- 60% of victims undertaking scuba diving were experienced or highly experienced divers
”Exploring our waters while snorkelling and scuba diving is a great activity enjoyed by many however, it only takes moments for something to go wrong. It is essential that people know their limitations and what to do if something goes wrong. Simple things like checking conditions, equipment and not doing these activities alone could save your life,” Shane Daw, National Coastal Risk & Safety Manager SLSA said.
Surf Life Saving Australia urges all snorkellers and scuba divers to:
- Ensure equipment is serviceable
- Wear appropriate buoyancy and safety devices as appropriate to activity
- Check tides, weather and ocean conditions
- Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety
- Only go out in conditions that are appropriate to your skill level
- Go with other people and let someone know your plans
- Avoid using snorkelling or scuba diving equipment under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Call 000 if assistance is required.
For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit beachsafe.org.au
To read the full Coastal Safety Brief- Snorkelling and Scuba Diving- click here