Water safety tips for summer

Make sure you and your family stay safe when you’re enjoying your summer break with our top water safety tips.

As the weather heats up, Australians are being urged to not be complacent about water safety, with two in five drowning deaths occurring in summer.

The 2018 Royal Life Saving national drowning report 2018 states 249 people drowned in Australian waterways in the 12 months to June 30 this year.

Some 72 per cent were male, with the largest number of drownings occurring in the 35-44 year age group.

“Men are overrepresented in drowning statistics, often due to risk-taking behaviour,” Royal Life Saving Society Australia CEO Justin Scarr says.

“Don’t overestimate your ability, avoid alcohol and drugs around water and look after your mates.”

To stay safe around water, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving Australia also urge everyone to wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling, and to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags.

The report also highlighted inland waterways such as rivers, creeks and streams were the leading location for drownings with 25 per cent of all deaths in the year to June 30.

With many families heading to camping spots for a break over the festive period, holidaymakers are being advised to be aware of their surroundings.

“Conditions in rivers can change rapidly,” Justin says. “Just because you might regularly visit an area, doesn’t mean the environment will be the same the next time you go.”

water safety

Make pool safety a priority

As well as being mindful of conditions when swimming at rivers and lakes, parents are also advised to take precautions around swimming pools, particularly if you have one in your own backyard.

Children under five recorded the largest number of drowning deaths in swimming pools, accounting for 36 per cent of all swimming pool drowning deaths in 2017-18.

Accidental falls into water remain the leading activity prior to drowning for children under five.

The most common ways toddlers gain access to a pool are due to a faulty fence or gate, a lack of fence or the gate being propped open.

“Toddler drowning deaths have been dramatically reduced over time, yet drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death of children aged under five,” Justin says.

“Active adult supervision is key to prevent young children from drowning. For pool owners, regularly check your pool fence and gate, and never prop the pool gate open.”

Stay safe from the sun

If you’re heading out in to the great outdoors and intending to catch a bit of sun down the beach or on a camping trip, make sure you’ve also got sun protection.

Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the age of 70, and sunscreen can reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before going in the sun, and should then be reapplied at least every two hours or after swimming or sporting activities.

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Written by Erin Miller.