Be water smart
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.