SLSA urges the public: “Lifejackets save lives”
Surf Life Saving Australia is calling on the public to stay safe by taking more safety precautions and wearing a lifejacket on and around the water as fatalities continue to occur while boating, rock fishing or using personal watercraft on our coast.
The recently released SLSA Coastal Safety Brief on Lifejackets has painted a grim picture on the number of coastal fatalities and drowning deaths that have occurred on the Australian coastline, an overwhelming majority of which were not wearing a lifejacket at the time of death.
Boating, personal watercraft (PWC), rock fishing and non-powered watercraft (e.g. kayak, canoes, SUP) are popular coastal activities that recommend the use of lifejackets and since July 2004 there has been a total of 980 deaths recorded, 70% of which were not wearing a lifejacket. This number is potentially much higher with lifejacket status remaining unknown for 20% of incidents.
Boating continues to record the highest numbers of coastal fatalities for these activities with a total of 671 deaths recorded since 2004 (390 were due to drowning). A lifejacket was not worn in 71% of these coastal fatalities.
SLSA General Manager Coastal Safety, Shane Daw ESM said that, as the name implies, lifejackets are so important to keep you and your loved ones safe in, on or around the water.
“Lifejackets are called that for a reason; they can save your life,” said Daw.
“We continue to see an overwhelming number of deaths each year in activities like boating, rock fishing and personal watercraft, when lifejackets aren’t worn.
“No one intends to get into trouble while they’re out on the water, but time and time again we see people who fall, slip, are washed off rocks, have an accident, have a medical incident or get into some type of trouble and were not wearing a lifejacket; with research showing that in many cases the result is fatal.”
Daw said that the same logic that applies to seatbelts, should be applied to wearing a lifejacket while in, on or around the water when boating, fishing or using watercraft.
“We all wear seatbelts, because we know that in the event that we have an accident, which in their nature are always unpredictable, we know that we have a much better chance of keeping ourselves safe and saving our lives – Why then don’t we apply this logic to wearing lifejackets?” Daw said.
“Some of the biggest barriers to people not wearing a lifejacket include overestimating ability and underestimating the unpredictability of the ocean, thinking it will never happen to me and some simply think they look unfashionable. Many are also unaware or unsure of the legislation around the use of lifejackets for a range of activities.
“In a lot of boating scenarios lifejackets are on board, or are being carried, but are not worn and when something unpredictable happens, there is no time to put it on. You need to wear a lifejacket to actually protect or save yourself and your loved ones.”
For more information on the statistics related to coastal fatalities, drowning and the importance of wearing a lifejacket to minimise these deaths, please see the SLSA Coastal Safety Brief on Lifejackets – Click here.
Statistics from the SLSA Coastal Safety Brief – Lifejackets:
- There have been 980 coastal deaths due to boating, rock fishing, non-powered and personal watercraft activities – 70% of which were not wearing a lifejacket
- On average each year there are 61 deaths – 41 of these are due to drowning
- Of the 41 annual drowning deaths, 69% were not wearing a lifejacket
- Men are grossly overrepresented in the data accounting for 895 deaths since recording began in July 2004 – this is over 91%
- 25-39 year-olds and 60-74 year-olds are the two biggest at risk demographics recording 216 deaths and 259 deaths respectively since July 2004
- Boating deaths account for the majority of coastal fatalities with 671 deaths – in 71% of these incidents a lifejacket wasn’t worn
- Rock fishing, while accounting for fewer deaths than boating (206 deaths – 199 due to drowning), it has the highest percentage (80%) of coastal deaths that were not wearing a lifejacket
- Never underestimate the unpredictability of the ocean
- Check weather and ocean conditions before heading out boating, rock fishing or on water craft
- Don’t just carry a lifejacket, ensure you and those around you are all wearing one
- Ensure you know the legislation in your state relating to when lifejackets are mandated and recommended. Put one on anyway, it could save your life
- Know your limits
- STOP, LOOK, PLAN