Last month, Royal Life Saving Society Australia released their annual National Drowning Report 2019. There has been some encouraging progress in reducing drowning deaths in children, but there is still a long way to go. Here is a breakdown of the findings.
We are saddened to share the RLSS Australia’s findings that there has been a 10% increase in drowning deaths compared to last year. Overall, there were 276 drowning deaths in Australia between 1st July 2018 and 30th June 2019; a figure that is 276 drowning deaths too many. Not only did 276 people lose their lives to drowning, RLSS Australia estimates that a further 584 people experienced a non-fatal drowning incident.
According to the latest report, there was a 30% reduction in drowning of children aged 0-4, compared to the 10-year average. However, with children, those aged under 5 years of age are still at the highest risk of drowning. For this age group, home pools are the main location of drowning deaths. Many factors were identified as contributing to these statistics, however one reason stands out - falls into water. This statistic highlights the necessity of active supervision.
Alarmingly, adults accounted for the most drowning deaths in the 2018 - 2019 period, with more than 85% of drowning deaths occurring in people aged 18 and older. Some of the risk factors identified in drowning deaths for adults include pre-existing medical conditions, alcohol use and drug use - overwhelmingly from legal medications.
Royal Life Saving Society Australia also reported that the warmer weather sees more drowning deaths than any other time of year. The 3 months of Summer alone saw almost half (45%) of all drowning deaths. Last year’s Summer was the hottest on record, leading to a 17% increase in Summer drowning deaths compared to the 10-year average.
As we continue towards these summer months, we urge parents and carers to remember that although swimming lessons are an important aspect of safer swimming, swimming lessons alone do not prevent drowning. Active supervision is the best form of ensuring a safer environment for your children to play, learn and grow.
We also urge our customers to consider the risks to themselves, friends and family around bodies of water. This report is a stark reminder that drowning can affect everybody, regardless of age.
Author: Josephine Moss (Swim School Coordinator)