Australian’s are being warned to take better care at the beach after recent statistics revealed a deadly increase in summer drownings along the nation’s coastline.
A total of 70 people lost their lives this summer representing an 11 per cent increase on the 10-year average and a nine per cent increase from Summer 2019-20.
Of the total number of deaths this summer, 88 per cent were male.
With three quarters of all drowning deaths occurring greater than one kilometre from a surf lifesaving service, SLSA General Manager Coastal Safety, Shane Daw ESM is pleading with people to swim in patrolled areas.
“What we have seen occur on our beaches and along our coastline this Summer is devastating and very alarming,” Mr Daw said.
“The highest number of summer drowning deaths were related to swimming and wading, but there has been a significant increase in drowning deaths of rock fishers and bystanders attempting to rescue someone else.”
There were five bystander rescue drowning deaths recorded this Summer – just above the average number for a whole year.
Fatal bystander rescues accounted for ten per cent of Summer drowning deaths but, alarmingly increased by 240 per cent above the 10-year average, while rock fishing deaths accounted for 12 per cent of drowning deaths, representing an 83 per cent increase from the 10-year average.
“We have also seen a dramatic rise in the amount of summer drowning deaths at rock and cliff locations, largely linked to the increase observed in rock fishing drowning deaths,” Mr Daw said.
“It is paramount that if you are going rock fishing to check conditions, know your limits and most importantly wear a lifejacket, in almost all instances of a rock fishing drowning the victim was not wearing a lifejacket, while many were fishing in notoriously dangerous spots.”
The statistics also point to a correlation between drownings and swimming in unfamiliar locations with almost half (46 per cent) of the fatalities involving visitors who lived more than 50 kilometres from the drowning location but remained in their home state.
Surf Life Saving Australia are encouraging people to swim between the flags wherever possible and ensure children are supervised at all times.