The Royal Lifesaving National Drowning Report
The Royal Lifesaving National Drowning Report was released yesterday, and unfortunately the news is not good. 291 people died as a result of drowning in Australia in the 2016/17 financial year – a 3% increase on the 282 drowning deaths in the previous period. 32% drowning deaths occurred in NSW, the highest state percentage nationwide.
Extremely concerning is the fact that drowning in children under 5 increased last year, with 29 children aged 0-4 years drowning, a 38% increase on the previous year. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health said “Australians love the water, it’s an important part of our culture. This is a sobering reminder to always actively supervise children around water, for people young and old to learn to swim and survive, to increase lifejacket use, reduce alcohol consumption around water and to always respect the river”.
Justin Scarr, Royal Life Saving CEO said “Kids and families love pools, but they can pose a significant drowning risk to toddlers. Royal Life Saving urges pool owners to actively supervise young children around water and check that the pool fence and gate is in good working order.”
The report found there were 12 drowning deaths in children aged 5-14 years. Justin Scarr said “Though many Australian children swim well, we still find too many kids can’t swim at all and have limited water safety knowledge.”
The 2017 report is the first to examine the impact of both fatal and non-fatal drowning, with Royal Life Saving estimating that there were an additional 685 non-fatal drowning incidents requiring hospitalisation in 2016/17. Many of these people will require long term medical assistance.
Royal Life Saving has developed a home pool safety checklist home owners can use to minimise the risks. You can find the checklist at: www.royallifesaving.com.au/families/at-home/home-pool-safety/home-pool-safety-checklist.