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Horror Week Leads to Water Safety Plea

Horror Week Leads to Water Safety Plea
April 17, 2009

The Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) has issued an urgent plea to Australians to become more conscious of the risk of drowning after a horror week where 10 lives were lost across Australia and many more people had to be rescued.

RLSSA Chief Executive, Rob Bradley, said the deaths were a tragic reminder that Australians need to be less complacent around water, stating “there is a peak in drowning deaths over holiday periods each year for two reasons: on holidays people are more relaxed and less aware of the risks and more people have the time to be on, in, or around water with friends and family. Inclement weather over the Easter break this year also put people at more risk of drowning.

“Families often never recover from the loss of a loved one through drowning.

“The sad fact is that even 10 deaths is probably not the complete figure for drowning deaths in the last seven days. Babies who drown in baths, small children who drown in backyard pools and older people who drown are often not picked up in media reports, so we’ll expect to hear about more drowning deaths for this period from Coroners across Australia.

“We also know through media reports of at least 16 people who almost drowned over the same period.

“The range of ages of the people who have drowned this week, from 12 to 62, shows that everyone in our community is at risk of drowning.

“Many of the people who died in the past week were very competent swimmers and very experienced around the water. What that shows is it’s not necessarily skill or experience that will save your life.

“We’re pleading with people not to become a drowning statistic this year. Simple precautions save lives".

Precautions recommended by RLSSAinclude:

• Don't drive through floodwaters. 
• Get familiar with Royal Life Saving’s four ‘Keep Watch’ actions – especially supervising your children, particularly keeping young children within arm’s reach around the water. 
• Always swim with a friend. 
• Never swim in floodwaters or enter stormwater drains as the water level can rise and the strength of the current can increase without warning.
• If you’ve had a beer, don’t pull on the boardies. A new Royal Life Saving NSW study showed up to 30 per cent of adults who drown in NSW have alcohol in their system.
• Swim between the flags. Sea currents can be unpredictable. 
• Check the weather forecasts before setting out for any activities on, in or around water as floodwaters and storms can prove fatal.
• Wear a personal flotation device whenever you are on, in or around water. 
• Do a Bronze Medallion course. 
• Learn CPR.

Media reported drowning deaths in the past week:

• 9th April – 35-year-old father of two dies while swimming at Rainbow Beach, Bonny Hills, NSW.
• 10th April – 23-year-old man drowns off the Western Australian coast near Denmark after being caught in a rip.
• 11th April – A fisherman, 66, drowns near the mouth of the Patterson River at Carrum, Victoria after slipping while getting back onto the dock.
• 12th April – 58-year-old man drowns at Redgate Beach, South Australia while swimming with his son.
• 12th April – 34-year-old man dies trying to save his sister and a friend at New Brighton Beach, NSW.
• 12th April – 12-year-old girl drowned after being swept from a weir while swimming, Caboolture River, Queensland.
• 13th April – 19-year-old woman drowned after her car was washed off a road in flash flooding near Cootamundra, NSW.
• 14th April - Two fisherman aged 62 and 61, drown in seas off the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. 
• 15th April – A student, 21, drowns on the Gold Coast, Queensland while diving.

For more information about Royal Life Saving, go to

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