Last summer, we saw an increase in drowning deaths around the country.
This was particularly concentrated in the period between Christmas and New Year where we saw a drowning rate that was four times the average.
Over the holidays Australia had a multitude of “swimmable days”, that is, days with consistently warm temperatures, and minimal rainfall.
The great weather combined with public holidays, group gatherings, and the involvement of alcohol and drugs during the festive period are thought to have contributed to this increase.
The Royal Life Saving Society Australia’s has put together its Top Tips for a safe summer:
A lapse in supervision is the number one contributing factor in toddler drowning deaths. Be prepared, be close, and give all of your attention, all of the time. Don’t be distracted by other activities such as checking your phone, answering the door or preparing food. Always keep watch and stay within arms reach.
■Check pool fence
Often pool owners don’t realise their pool fence or gate is faulty and poses a threat to their children’s safety. Check regularly to ensure your pool fence, gates and latches are in working order, and remove anything that kids could use to climb over.
Visit www.homepoolsafety.com.au to download a home pool safety checklist. Get in touch with council to discuss regulations and arrange for an inspection.
Even small amounts of alcohol can delay your reaction time, inhibit your capacity to assess risk, and affect your swimming ability. Don’t drink alcohol when around water, and keep your mates out of trouble if they’ve been drinking and decide to go for a swim or take the boat out.
■Always wear a lifejacket
Wearing a lifejacket doubles your chance of survival if you fall or are struggling in water. In Australia, lifejacket laws differ from state to state, however, we recommend always wearing a lifejacket when rock fishing, boating, or using watercraft such as kayaks, paddle boards or windsurfers.
■Be aware of medical
Cardiac conditions are the leading pre-existing condition impacting drowning deaths. Know your limits. Have regular check-ups with your doctor, treat medical conditions, and don’t swim alone.
■Never swim alone
Having someone with you when you’re in, on or around the water can help save your life if you get into trouble. Whether you’re heading down to the beach for a dip, taking the boat out, or going fishing, take someone with you.
■Check conditions before going out
Check weather conditions and warnings before going out. When at the beach always check for rips and swim between the flags. When at a river, check for currents and submerged objects. Enter the water feet first and slowly.
■Learn CPR and first aid
Prevention is the fundamental way to avoid drowning, however, as a last line of defence, CPR is a vital life skill that can help save a life. Learn lifesaving skills so you can provide vital treatment in the event of an emergency. Visit www.royallifesaving.com.au to sign up for a course.