Summer drowning deaths up 16% on last year

By Alice Richard
Thursday, 28 January, 2016

Drowning numbers are up 16% on last year, with 59 drowning deaths recorded since 1 December 2015. Ten of these deaths occurred on public holidays.

For the previous summer period (1 December 2014 to 19 January 2015), Royal Life Saving recorded 51 drowning deaths.

While the vast majority of deaths occurred in natural waterways such as beaches and rivers, more than half (57%) of the 66 recorded non-fatal drownings involved children under five in home swimming pools.

“Children drown quickly and silently. It is important that children are actively supervised within arm’s reach at all times. Ensure the home swimming pool is fenced with a correctly installed and regularly maintained pool fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate,” said Justin Scarr, CEO Royal Life Saving.

Men are vastly overrepresented in drowning deaths in Australia, with 80% of all drowning deaths recorded over summer to date being males. This reflects national annual trends that find men drown at four times the rate of women.

Of the 2015/16 summer drowning fatalities, the top three activities prior to drowning were:

  • swimming and recreating: 17 drowning deaths (29%);
  • watercraft incidents: 12 drowning deaths (20%);
  • falls into water: 6 drowning deaths (10%).

For more information on water safety and drowning prevention strategies, visit

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