25 Jan Staying safe in the water over summer…
Summertime across most of Australia means being at the beach, or in the pool, or on the water, boating in some form of watercraft. Unfortunately, water-related coastal deaths are on the rise.
In 2016, medical conditions or injury were the major causes of drownings; however, a significant factor in swimming or wading deaths is swimming on unpatrolled beaches, or swimming outside the flags on patrolled beaches. The two main factors in boating deaths are not wearing life jackets, and operating watercraft while affected by alcohol or drugs.
A collaborative approach to reducing the number of drownings in Australia is being pursued via the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016–2020, which aims to reduce drownings by 50% by 2020. The Strategy has defined 11 goals targeting high risk age groups such as men aged 25 to 64, high risk locations such as coastal waters, and key drowning challenges such as drugs and alcohol. The Strategy has identified seven ‘pillars’, such as advocacy, research, collaboration, and education, that will help to achieve their target.
What can we do to reduce our accident risk?
- Be mindful of your health and any pre-existing medical conditions you have that may reduce your capabilities in the water; be aware of the limitations of your own skill and fitness.
- Check weather, surf and beach reports, especially concerning rips – if in doubt, don’t go in. Rip currents accounted for 14% of drownings in the 12 months to June 2016.
- Always swim on patrolled beaches, and always swim between the flags. There were no fatalities recorded for anyone swimming between the flags at a patrolled beach.
- Wear a life jacket whenever you are on a watercraft of any type.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs if you are going to be operating any sort of watercraft. On beach and boating outings, designate non-drinkers to watch toddlers and small children. In the 12 months to June 2016, alcohol and drugs were a contributing factor in 17% of drownings.
Be prepared – Equip your watercraft with life jackets and a first aid kit, and make sure your CPR and first aid certifications are up-to-date.
Courtesy of Allens Training