SWIMMERS are being urged to take care when the weather warms up to lower the risk of drowning.
A new report has revealed that 281 people nationally died from drowning between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023. The report was completed by Royal Life Saving Society Australia in partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia.
The death toll of 281 was lower than last year’s total of 339. In Victoria 59 people died from accidental drowning, up around 26 percent on the state’s 10-year average.
A third of national drowning deaths in 2022/2023 were preceded by swimming and recreation. 26 per cent of deaths occurred in December and January. Beaches are the most common location for drowning deaths – there were 247 deaths attributed to rips between 2013 and 2023.
Royal Life Saving Society Australia CEO Justin Scarr said Royal Life Saving “urges against complacency.”
“With summer approaching, pool owners should check that their pool fence is in good working order, remember to constantly keep watch when young children are around water, and avoid distractions like mobile phones,” he said.
Men are most commonly the victims of drowning. Scarr said “we urge men to make the right call, and avoid alcohol and drugs around water, check the conditions and avoid over-estimation of swimming ability. Older adults should understand the potential impacts of other medical conditions and medications on water activities including swimming and boating.
“Royal Life Saving continues to be concerned about declining swimming and water safety skills among children, and adults more generally. The impacts of missed lessons throughout the COVID-19 pandemic will have generational impacts on safety if left unaddressed.”
Deaths of children aged up to four-years-old have trended downward in the last 20 years, however the proportion of older swimmers dying from drowning has experts concerned. Federal aged care and sport minister Anika Wells said “with very hot and dry conditions forecast this summer, water safety should be top of mind. I urge all Australians to always supervise children around water, learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills, wear a lifejacket when boating, and rock fishing and to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.”
“Enjoying a swim has so many benefits for people of all ages, especially older adults. Some simple precautions, like having a medical check-up to ensure you are swim fit, or going to the local swimming pool to refresh your skills is a great idea ahead of the expected hot summer,” she said.
Among the drowning deaths in the last year was 17-year-old Nick Maan. He died at Mordialloc beach on Boxing Day (“Drowning deaths spark safety warning” The News 11/1/23).
To read the report visit royallifesaving.com.au/research-and-policy/drowning-research/national-drowning-reports