Be wa­ter smart

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Tara Whitsed

Wa­ter Safety Vic­to­ria has fo­cused its wa­ter safety mes­sage on the at-risk groups of tod­dlers, older peo­ple and some men.

Ac­cord­ing to Wa­ter Safety Vic­to­ria, 45 per cent of all drown­ing deaths in Vic­to­ria last year were chil­dren un­der four years old.

Of the chil­dren who sur­vived drown­ing, many were hospi­talised and were left with per­ma­nent dis­abil­i­ties.

‘‘Most fa­tal drown­ings oc­cur at home, in­clud­ing back­yard swim­ming pools, bath­tubs and dams,’’ the Wa­ter Safety Vic­to­ria web­site states.

‘‘Of­ten a lack of su­per­vi­sion com­bined with in­ad­e­quate safety bar­ri­ers around the pool or out­door spa are found to be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the child’s death.

‘‘In some cases, a climb­ing point has al­lowed for easy ac­cess to the swim­ming pool.’’

In order to pre­vent tod­dler drown­ings, the body ad­vised peo­ple to re­strict chil­dren’s ac­cess to wa­ter and al­ways keep them within arm’s reach when around wa­ter.

‘‘Re­mem­ber, 20 sec­onds is all it takes,’’ the web­site states.

Wa­ter Safety Vic­to­ria re­ported a 45 per cent in­crease in Vic­to­ria’s drown­ing rate of those aged 65 and over, with many deaths the re­sult of ac­ci­den­tal slips, trips and falls into wa­ter.

Peo­ple are urged not to swim alone, even if they be­lieve they are a great swim­mer.

‘‘And, if you are some­one who en­joys boat­ing, wear a life jacket as it can keep you afloat if needed while help ar­rives,’’ the web­site states.

Wa­ter Safety Vic­to­ria also high­lighted the risk for men when it came to drown­ing in­ci­dents, which were of­ten as­so­ci­ated with al­co­hol con­sump­tion.

‘‘Men are four times more likely to drown than women. Last year, over 20 per cent of drown­ing deaths in Vic­to­ria in­volved al­co­hol,’’ the web­site states.

‘‘Al­co­hol can dis­ori­en­tate, in­crease your bravado and make you mis­cal­cu­late dis­tance. Com­bined with of­ten cold wa­ter en­vi­ron­ments and hid­den cur­rents . . . it’s a lethal com­bi­na­tion.

‘‘Don’t drink and then go for a swim. You should also ad­vise your friends against en­ter­ing the wa­ter if they have been drink­ing.’’

Men were also at a higher risk of drown­ing due to not wear­ing a life­jacket when boat­ing, par­tic­u­larly those out on kayaks or ca­noes.

‘‘Even though you may be ex­pe­ri­enced in this ac­tiv­ity, or be an ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mer tak­ing on a new ac­tiv­ity, it is im­por­tant to al­ways be pre­pared, un­der­stand the en­vi­ron­ment you are go­ing into, and check on the weather and wa­ter con­di­tions be­fore you go out,’’ the web­site states.

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