Please be safe around water
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.