Please be safe around wa­ter

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Opinion -

I ASK read­ers to take care when they are in or around wa­ter, par­tic­u­larly as the warmer months ap­proach.

The Na­tional Drown­ing Re­port 2016 re­veals 280 peo­ple drowned in Aus­tralian wa­ter­ways in 2015-16. This is a 5 per cent in­crease on the 267 drown­ing deaths recorded the pre­vi­ous year.

Each drown­ing death is a per­sonal story, af­fect­ing fam­i­lies, res­cuers and com­mu­ni­ties.

The re­port shows that 83 per cent of the drown­ing deaths were males. It is the high­est per­cent­age of male drown­ing deaths in the past 10 years.

Al­co­hol con­tin­ues to be a risk fac­tor in drown­ing deaths, with 15 per cent of peo­ple who drowned hav­ing a pos­i­tive read­ing for al­co­hol in their blood­stream. Of these, 40 per cent had a blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion four times the le­gal limit or higher.

Beaches were the lead­ing lo­ca­tion for drown­ing, with rivers the next most com­mon lo­ca­tion.

More than a quar­ter of all drown­ing deaths hap­pened at in­land wa­ter­ways, in­clud­ing rivers, creeks, lakes and dams.

Although in­land wa­ter­ways of­ten look calm from the sur­face, they can present hid­den dan­gers such as strong cur­rents and sub­merged ob­sta­cles. Such haz­ards are not vis­i­ble from the sur­face and con­di­tions may change rapidly.

We pro­mote four sim­ple safety tips: wear a life­jacket, avoid al­co­hol around wa­ter, never swim alone and learn how to save a life.

This year, we also saw a re­duc­tion in the num­ber of chil­dren un­der five drown­ing, with a 30 per cent de­crease recorded against the 10-year av­er­age.

Young chil­dren are at the high­est risk of drown­ing, with home swim­ming pools the most com­mon lo­ca­tion for drown­ing.

We urge you to stay vig­i­lant. Royal Life Sav­ing’s Keep Watch pro­gram asks par­ents to su­per­vise chil­dren, re­strict ac­cess by in­stalling and main­tain­ing a pool fence, en­rol chil­dren in wa­ter fa­mil­iari­sa­tion classes and learn CPR.

As the hot weather ap­proaches, we want peo­ple to en­joy our beau­ti­ful wa­ter­ways and be safe around the wa­ter.

JUSTIN SCARR, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Royal Life Sav­ing So­ci­ety Aus­tralia.

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