Your View: Remember water safety

WHILE daylight saving has ended and temperatures are starting to drop, it’s important people remain just as vigilant about water safety as we are in warmer summer months. While we see less swimming as the weather cools down, surfing, fishing, boating and paddle sports like kayaking continue year-round.

Last year a staggering 116 people drowned in Australia’s coastal areas, including 10 people in South Australia. Many of these deaths could have been prevented.

While we associate swimming and water sports with Australia’s enviable summer, almost two thirds of drowning deaths around the country happen outside of summer. More than a third of all drowning deaths also happen while people are boating or operating a watercraft and the main group of concern is adult men. Men account for 83 per cent of coastal drowning deaths and they are rescued twice as often as women.

While medical conditions and rips are the biggest contributing factors, alcohol consumption is the third-highest contributor. While it sounds obvious to say mixing alcohol and water activities is a bad idea, it keeps happening.

Research demonstrates overconfidence is a major issue, with many people overestimating their swimming abilities. In reality, 55 per cent of adults are unable to swim more than 50 metres without stopping and one in four Australians is unable to float for more than 10 minutes. It’s important that people who are not strong swimmers, do not put themselves out of their comfort zone even in seemingly calm conditions. It’s also important for people to take as many precautions as possible, such as checking weather conditions, carrying a charged mobile phone, downloading the Beachsafe app and wearing a lifejacket.

Don’t let complacency about water safety set in with the cooler weather. Don’t become a casualty.

Conny Wilson, Lifesaving World

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