Stay safe

• A Royal Life Saving Australia program teaches kids in remote and regional areas how to swim.

AS we enter the sizzling festive period and look forward to a refreshing swim, Royal Life Saving Australia is urging sandgropers to be ultra vigilant around water.

During the last financial year, despite covid, there was a 20 per cent increase in drowning deaths across Australia, up from 245 to 294. The highest number of these were during the summer when Australians flock to the ocean, pools, rivers and lakes.  

“Australians love the water, it is part of so many communities and family activities particularly over summer,” says Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Adam Weir. 

“After spending the greater part of the past two years restricted by covid we know that Australians will be keen to get to the beach and explore different areas, but we are asking the public to consider their safety around the water this summer. 

“Simple actions like supervising children at all times on, in and around water, swimming at a patrolled location between the red and yellow flags, avoiding alcohol and drugs while swimming and wearing a lifejacket while boating and fishing are all things that can be done to minimise the danger of drowning this summer.”

Last summer, 101 people lost their lives due to drowning, with the summer accounting for 34 per cent of all drowning deaths across 2020-21. 

Royal Life Saving Society Australia CEO Justin Scarr says children are at increased risk of drowning over summer and require constant supervision around swimming pools and inland waterways.

“When supervising children around the pool, river or lake this summer, always make sure they have your full attention and avoid distractions,”  he says.

“Remember, kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to keep watch. 

“Even small amounts of alcohol can affect behaviour, swimming ability and increase the risk of drowning.

“We are urging Australians to make the right call and avoid alcohol around water this summer. Some simple actions to help make water safety a priority on National Water Safety Day include enrolling children in swimming lessons, checking the pool fence and gate, or checking the Royal Life Saving or Surf Life Saving websites for information about water safety over summer.” 

Last year the federal government announced the first day of Summer (December 1) would be National Water Safety Day, encouraging Australians to make water safety a priority.

Top water safety tips

• Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags – surf lifesavers or lifeguards are there to help if you get into trouble  

• Wear a lifejacket if you are going boating, rock fishing or on watercraft

• Avoid alcohol and drugs while undertaking water activities

• Always supervise children on, in and around water at all times 

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