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Increase in summer drownings prompts plea from Surf Life Saving Australia
Surf Life Saving Australia has advised that it is again “pleading” with people visiting the Australian coastline to think about safety after statistics show a deadly increase in summer drownings and fatalities on our coastline.
One of the deadliest summers on record has seen 70 people lose their lives on the Australian coastline - an 11% increase on the 10-year average and a 9% increase from summer 2019/20.
With three quarters of all drowning deaths occurring greater than 1 kilometre from a surf lifesaving service, SLSA General Manager Coastal Safety, Shane Daw ESM said the message is clear, people need to swim at patrolled beaches where possible.
Daw advised “what we have seen occur on our beaches and along our coastline this Summer is devastating and very alarming.
“The highest number of summer drowning deaths were related to swimming and wading, but there has been a significant increase in drowning deaths of rock fishers and bystanders attempting to rescue someone else. There were five bystander rescue drowning deaths recorded this Summer, which alarmingly is just above the average number for a whole year.
“Rip currents were a dominant factor for all (100%) fatal summer bystander rescues and half (51%) of summer swimming and wading drowning deaths.”
Fatal bystander rescues accounted for 10% of summer drowning deaths but, alarmingly increased by 240% above the 10-year average, while rock fishing deaths accounted for 12% of drowning deaths, representing an 83% increase from the 10-year average.
Daw added “we have also seen a dramatic rise in the amount of summer drowning deaths at rock and cliff locations, largely linked to the increase observed in rock fishing drowning deaths
“It is paramount that if you are going rock fishing to check conditions, know your limits and most importantly wear a lifejacket, in almost all instances of a rock fishing drowning the victim was not wearing a lifejacket, while many were fishing in notoriously dangerous spots.”
Almost half of summer drowning deaths (46%) involved intrastate visitors who lived more than 50 kilometres from the drowning location but remained in their home state. While this needs further investigation, it potentially reflects on impacts from COVID-19 with travel restrictions resulting in people visiting unfamiliar locations.
Statistics for summer:
Statistics for summer:
• 70 people died on the Australian coast this summer
• 49 were due to drowning
• 88% of fatalities were male
• Rip currents were linked to 100% summer bystander rescue drowning deaths
• 1 in 2 swimming and wading summer drowning deaths were linked to rip currents
• 46% summer drowning deaths were intrastate visitors who lived more than 50 kilometre from the drowning location
• Swim at a patrolled beach between the flags - this way you will have surf lifesavers or lifeguards on hand to assist if you get into trouble
• Supervise children on, in and around water at all times - this may assist in preventing them getting into difficulty in the first place.
• For young children stay within arm’s reach.
• Wear a lifejacket if you are going rock fishing, fishing, boating or on and around water
• Avoid alcohol and drugs while undertaking water activities
Image courtesy of Surf Life Saving Queensland.
4th March 2021 - Life Saving Victoria announces more benefits for swim teachers
20th February 2021 - Prime Minister Morrison pledges extra funds for Surf Life Saving across Australia
5th February 2021 - Broadbeach gym manager dies in Gold Coast drowning incident
1st February 2021 - Victoria’s Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club opens its new facility
25th January 2021 - Surf Life Saving Australia warns drowning deaths more likely on public holidays
22nd December 2020 - Lifeguard Bruce Hopkins recognised at World Leader Summit
18th December 2020 - Wollongong welcomes new lifeguard recruits
22nd October 2020 - New Lifeguard pods could help save lives on beaches this summer
30th September 2020 - CQU researcher seeks input with study into drowning prevention strategies
25th September 2020 - Wollongong lifeguards prepared for 2020/2021 beach and pool swim season
19th March 2020 - Drownings fall across Australian summer of extremes
5th December 2019 - AUSTSWIM receives funding boost to combat multicultural drownings
27th December 2015 - Professional Lifeguards highlight need for safety first at the beach
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