A record number of trained surf lifesavers have been patrolling beaches this summer, in a concerted effort to keep the Australian beaches safe and reduce coastal drowning and injury, according to new figures from the countryâ„¢s major water safety and rescue authority, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA).
A record number of trained surf lifesavers have been patrolling beaches this summer, in a concerted effort to keep the Australian beaches safe and reduce coastal drowning and injury, according to new figures from the country’s major water safety and rescue authority, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA).
SLSA CEO, Greg Nance, said that 57 people drowned around the Australian coastline during 2004-05, a 42.5 per cent increase on the previous season, but below the five-year average of 58. “Our surf lifesavers and lifeguards were involved in significantly more rescues and preventative actions last season (14,601 and 544,789 respectively), suggesting that the prevailing conditions were rougher, which is one explanation for the increase in the coastal drowning rate, he said.
“With the support of government and partners such as DHL and Telstra, surf lifesaving services are constantly being expanded around the country to meet the organisation’s goal of zero preventable drowning deaths. ”
“This season we will have more than 34,000 surf lifesavers on patrol around the country, the highest number in nearly 100 years, however if beachgoers continue to ignore basic safety messages by not swimming between the flags, people will still drown on our beaches,” he said.
The National Surf Safety Report, released to coincide with the first day of summer, found:
- Over 80 per cent of coastal drowning deaths were male
- Just under half (44%) of all drowning victims were people aged from 20 to 39 years
- The majority (65%) of people who drowned on the coast resided within 10km of the coastline
- Six international tourists drowned during 2004-05
- One-third of coastal drowning deaths occurred in the month of January, while the daily rate of drowning was more than twice as high on a weekend when compared to a weekday
- Drowning deaths in NSW, QLD, WA and the NT were below that state’s or territory annual drowning average for the previous five years (2000-05). VIC, SA and TAS sustained a rate of drowning deaths above their respective five-year average
- Not surprisingly, the most common activity at the time of drowning was swimming or wading (53 percent of drowning deaths)
- For deaths where the exact drowning location was recorded, just over half occurred within 1km of patrolled locations
- Coastal drowning was more frequent in fair and relatively benign weather and sea conditions
- Twenty-one non-fatal drownings were recorded over the 12 month period
- A further 39 water related deaths in saltwater locations were identified for the year. These cases included intentional self”harm plus drownings locations outside the general vicinity of SLSA patrol services such as estuaries, rivers, creeks, lakes, and the open ocean
The National Surf Safety Report was compiled using SLSA’s own incident data, cross-referenced with the National Coroners Information System (NCIS).
Source: SLSA website