Australian Medical Association warns swimmers about water safety

WATER SAFETY: Australians have been urged to stay safe while swimming throughout the entire year and especially during the summer holidays. Picture: GLENN DANIELS.
WATER SAFETY: Australians have been urged to stay safe while swimming throughout the entire year and especially during the summer holidays. Picture: GLENN DANIELS.

The Australian Medical Association has warned swimmers and holiday makers to be highly vigilant around all waterways this summer in an effort to reduce the number of drowning deaths nationwide.

According to the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017 in Australia during 2016-17 there were 291 people that drowned with 113 occurring during the holiday and summer period.

Dr Michael Gannon AMA president said rivers and creeks claimed a significant proportion of drowning related deaths and that you should never swim alone or intoxicated.

“Aquatic activities are an essential part of the Australian summer, providing much-needed reprieve from the heat, and forming a pivotal part of many family and social gatherings,” Dr Gannon said.

“All of these incidents are tragic and, for many families, the consequences are life-long.”

The report also identified a 32 per cent increase in drowning deaths in children under the age of 5 with 29 fatalities in total.

There were only 12 deaths in children aged 5-14 years, the lowest of any age group.

“Never leave children unsupervised, and remember that flotation devices can make children appear more confident in the water than they actually are,” Dr Gannon said.

“If your child is given pool toys for Christmas, make sure that you familiarise yourself with the safety instructions, and ensure that all toys are appropriate for the age of the child.”

SUMMER FUN: Water sports at Lake Eppalock. Picture: GLENN DANIELS.

SUMMER FUN: Water sports at Lake Eppalock. Picture: GLENN DANIELS.

There was also an additional 685 people that required hospital treatment for injuries that were related to water activities which included spinal injuries and brain damage.

The 25-34 year age group was the most over-represented with a total of 43 drowning deaths.

“There are many ways to be safe in and around the water,” Dr Gannon said.

“At the beach always swim between the flags, and check warning signs for dangerous conditions such as rips.”

“Always wear a life jacket while rock fishing, boating, or taking part in activities like kayaking, windsurfing, or jet-skiing.”

“Never swim alone, and never while intoxicated.”

“Check the depth before entering the water, and it is always safest to enter feet first.”

International tourists also accounted for 20 fatalities.