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Life Saving bodies urge Australians to take action to end drowning on World Drowning Prevention Day

Life Saving bodies urge Australians to take action to end drowning on World Drowning Prevention Day
July 24, 2021

Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving, Australia’s peak water safety organisations, are joining forces to mark the first World Drowning Prevention Day on Sunday 25th July by calling on all Australians to take action to end drowning.

Being marked across the world, World Drowning Prevention Day has resulted from the historic first United Nations Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention which was adopted in April 2021.

An estimated 236,000 people drown globally each year, with more than 90% of drowning deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Drowning rates in countries in the Asia-Pacific region can be up to 20 times higher than the rates in Australia.

The day recognises the enormous human toll of drowning. In Australia, hundreds of families mourn the loss of loved ones to drowning each year. Hundreds more are left with life-long injuries as a result of a non-fatal drowning.

World Drowning Prevention Day highlights the ways drowning can be prevented.

Commenting on the significance of the day, Royal Life Saving Society - Australia Chief Executive, Justin Scarr stated “everyone can play a role in preventing drowning. Males are the most at risk of drowning and we would particularly urge men in the 15 to 45 age group to avoid alcohol and drugs around water..

“For families, the key is supervision, pool fencing and swimming lessons. Young children should always be within an arm’s reach of an adult near water. Checking your pool fence and gate ahead of summer can literally be lifesaving. While many swim schools are closed, lessons should be a top priority as we approach warmer weather”.

Urging all Australians to be cautious along the coastline and thanking surf lifesavers around the country who continue to save lives and prevent drowning, Surf Life Saving Australia Chief Executive, Adam Weir added “we all have a role to play to prevent drowning in Australia and SLSA urges everyone to enjoy our coastlines safely by swimming between the red and yellow flags and understanding their limitations in and around water.

“In particular I would like to thank our 47,304 surf lifesavers who last season dedicated 1.2 million hours on patrol and performed 7,731 rescues, and who continue to save lives, prevent drownings and keep communities around Australia safe.”

With the support of the Australian Government, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving work with the Australian Water Safety Council, State and Territory organisations, and local communities to prevent drowning across the country and increase water safety awareness.

To stay safe around water, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving urge all Australians to:

  • Always supervise children in, on and around water
  • Learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs around water

Key global facts about drowning:

  • Drowning has been the cause of over 2.5 million preventable deaths in the last decade.
  • It is a significant international issue that to date has been largely unrecognised relative to its impact. WHO estimates that 235,600 people died from drowning in 2019.
  • This figure excludes drowning attributable to flood-related disasters and water transport incidents, so is considered an under-representation.
  • Drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children and young people aged 1-24 years in every region of the world.
  • More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Flood-related disasters increasingly affect millions of people globally due in part to the escalating adverse impacts of climate change, and drowning is the leading cause of deaths during floods.
  • Over 60% of all drowning deaths are in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.
  • Rates of drowning deaths per 100,000 population are highest in the Western Pacific region, followed by the African region.

Information about World Drowning Prevention Day be found here at www.royallifesaving.com.au/about/campaigns-and-programs/World-Drowning-Prevention-Day and www.who.int/campaigns/world-drowning-prevention-day/2021

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7th June 2021 - Still time for facilities and programs to register for the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson

18th May 2021 - Royal Life Saving highlights lifeguard and swim teacher shortage as providing opportunities for job seekers

7th May 2021 - Review gives ‘top marks’ to Gold Coast’s professional lifeguard services

4th May 2021 - Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguards Association conference to explore reversing rising summer drowning toll

30th April 2021 - United Nations passes first ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention

9th April 2021 - Australian Water Safety Council seeks local government backing to help reduce drownings

25th March 2021 - New Water Safety Strategy sets out plan to significantly cut Australia’s drowning rate

15th March 2021 - Increase in summer drownings prompts plea from Surf Life Saving Australia

5th February 2021 - Broadbeach gym manager dies in Gold Coast drowning incident

25th January 2021 - Surf Life Saving Australia warns drowning deaths more likely on public holidays

23rd November 2020 - Royal Life Saving’s latest Keep Watch campaign highlights tragic drowning toll among children aged under 12 months

21st October 2020 - Blacktown City Council launches Drowning Prevention Strategy

30th September 2020 - CQU researcher seeks input with study into drowning prevention strategies

23rd September 2020 - Paul Sadler Swimland concerned that limited access to swimming lessons increases drowning risks for children

21st September 2020 - Water Safety New Zealand invests $2.5 million in drowning prevention initiatives

14th July 2020 - ‘Culturally Competent’ aquatic centres look to reduce drownings among diverse communities

5th December 2019 - AUSTSWIM receives funding boost to combat multicultural drownings

12th November 2019 - South Australian beach drowning inquest calls for enhanced warning signs and lifesavers to operate over longer hours

7th November 2019 - NSW lifeguards look to halt drownings of foreign swimmers this summer

17th December 2017 - Complacency surrounding Asian drowning epidemic also impacts Australia

29th October 2011 - Asian floods expose child drowning ‘epidemic’


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