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Inland waterways pose real danger

WATER WARNING: Royal Life Saving urges people to take care at inland waterways in rural areas, such as the popular Lake Awoonga, near Gladstone, to avoid tragedy.
WATER WARNING: Royal Life Saving urges people to take care at inland waterways in rural areas, such as the popular Lake Awoonga, near Gladstone, to avoid tragedy. Christopher Chan

INLAND waterways account for the largest number of drowning deaths each year, according to the 2013 Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report.

Figures show 34% of all fatal drownings last year were in regional Australia and 99 deaths occured in inland waterways.

Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr said it was critical to be vigilant around all waterways.

"Many of these deaths, sadly, happen in regional or remote areas of Australia. These areas are often isolated and a long way from help in an emergency," Mr Scarr said.

"The high number of inland drowning deaths has prompted an urgent focus on identifying and then acting on inland drowning black spots in communities across the country."

While 291 Australians drowned in the past year, there has been a steep increase in drowning in people aged 55 and over. Eighty-two per cent of drowning deaths involve males.

"Men absolutely must stop and think before taking unnecessary risks when they are swimming, fishing or boating with their fathers, brothers or mates," Mr Scarr said.

"We need to see less alcohol, greater use of personal flotation devices and more caution when the weather is changing."

Mr Scarr said a lack of adult supervision was still the number one issue in child drowning, with many occuring while adults were distracted attending to other children, watching TV, performing daily chores or thinking someone else was supervising the child.For more information on water safety and drowning prevention, visit www. royallifesaving.com.au or youtube. com/RoyalLifeSavingAust.

For more information about protecting children when near or in water, go to www.keepwatch. com.au.

National Drowning

291 people drowned in Australian waterways between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2013

238 (82%) males and 53 (18%) females drowned

31 (11%) drowning deaths occurred in children aged 0-4 years

9 (3%) drowning deaths occurred in children aged 5-14 years

26 (9%) drowning deaths occurred in young people aged 15 to 24 years

114 (39%) drowning deaths occurred in people aged 55 years and over

99 (34%) drowning deaths occurred in inland waterways

Topics:  drowning water safety


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