Drowning deaths decrease

Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Drowning deaths decrease

The Royal Life Saving Society Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia have recently released annual reports that outline the impact of national drowning deaths in 2017–18.

Of the 249 drowning deaths recorded across the year, 33 were in swimming pools, 110 in coastal waters, 61 in rivers, creeks and streams and 20 in lakes, dams and lagoons. The total figure represents a 14% decrease from the 2016–17 period, but the report also estimates 551 hospitalisations from non-fatal drowning incidents.

Royal Life Saving Society Australia CEO Justin Scarr said the decrease shouldn’t lead to complacency. 

“This is the lowest number of drowning deaths ever recorded in Australia. The figures show that drowning prevention initiatives continue to reduce the impacts of drowning across most waterways and age groups. However, we cannot be complacent about water safety.

“Toddler drowning deaths have been dramatically reduced over time, yet drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death of children aged under 5 years. Swimming and water safety education remains a key priority for all school-aged children,” he said.

To stay safe around water, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving Australia urge all Australians to:

  • supervise children at all times around water
  • learn swimming and lifesaving skills
  • wear a life jacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
  • avoid alcohol around water.

Key findings from the Royal Life Saving National Drowning report:

  • 249 people drowned in Australian waterways, a 14% decrease compared to 2016–17.
  • It is estimated a further 551 people were hospitalised due to non-fatal drowning.
  • 72% of drowning deaths were men, with alcohol and risk taking a common factor.
  • Rivers, creeks and streams were the location with the largest number of drowning deaths, accounting for 25% of all drowning deaths.
  • 18 children aged 0–4 years drowned in Australia, which represents a 36% reduction on the 10-year average.
  • 67% of drowning deaths of children aged 0–4 years were in swimming pools.
  • 25% of all drowning deaths occurred when swimming and recreating.
  • Two in five drowning deaths occurred in summer.

Image credit: © stock.adobe.com/au/Dominique Ducouret

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