Beach drowning statistics concern as warm weather arrives

Main Beach, Nambucca Heads
Main Beach, Nambucca Heads

BEACHGOERS looking to make the most of a warm start to spring this week are urged to take water safety seriously with volunteer surf life saving patrols still more than a fortnight away.

The warning follows the release of the National Coastal Safety Report today in Canberra which highlights a number of NSW-specific trends.

NSW again accounted for a significant percentage of coastal drownings after 39 people lost their lives during 2017/18.

The data for NSW identifies the most at-risk groups are men (89 per cent of total drownings), swimmers aged 20-29 and rock fishers between the ages of 40 and 45.

While the fatalities are overwhelmingly male, there was a spike in the number of women who drowned last season, with seven deaths recorded.

A continuing concern for surf lifesavers is that almost two thirds of fatal incidents occurred less than 1km from a lifesaving service, but outside the patrolled area.

Almost half of the coastal drownings this season occurred between the hours of 12pm and 6pm. This statistic is also concerning as it suggests that the message about swimming at a patrolled location isn’t getting through.

“With the patrol season just weeks away we want to reiterate our key message to only swim at a patrolled location where help is close by,” SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce said.

There are some beaches across Sydney which are currently patrolled by council lifeguards.

“The data released today shows that rock fishing remains an extremely dangerous past time and the second biggest cause of death on the NSW coastline. We urge anglers to take simple precautions such as wearing the correct safety gear including a lifejacket, always fish with a friend, take care when getting on and off rock platforms, and to never turn their back on the ocean,” Mr Pearce said.

“This report makes for some sobering reading and reinforces the importance of the incredible contribution our lifesavers make on the beach each year,” he said.

Beach Safety Tips

• Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach, check the BeachSafe app or website

• Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information

• Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water

• Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs

• If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm

• In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police

• Don’t forget to be sun safe by remembering to: Slip on some protective clothing, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Slide on a pair of sunglasses, Seek some shade and Sip on lots of water to stay hydrated.

• For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.

Also making the news:

This story Almost two-thirds of beach drownings occur within 1km of a surf club first appeared on Guardian News.