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previous years.

The summer coastal drowning toll reached 49* (December – February), compared to 41 for the same period last year and above the 13-year average of 36.

Males continue to be overrepresented in the coastal drowning statistics with 76% recorded for the summer period. Twenty-four people drowned while swimming or wading, almost doubling the summer swimming toll of last year’s summer (13). Seven people drowned while boating, less than last summer (10).

Rip currents are believed to have been a contributing factor in approximately a third of the coastal drowning deaths, almost four times higher than last year, with 58% of summer coastal drowning deaths occurring more than 1km from a lifesaving service.

“This is a timely and tragic reminder to all that while the official summer period has ended there is still many months of great beach weather to come and it is vital that all beachgoers take ownership of their own safety.” said Melissa King, Chief Executive. “With a 20% increase in coastal drowning deaths for the summer period compared to last year, surf life savers are asking everyone to think water safety.”

Surf Life Saving Australia urges all heading to the beach to consider the following:

  • Where possible, swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
  • Obey the safety signs at the beach
  • Learn how to identify a rip current and look for rip currents before deciding where to swim
  • If you’re not sure, ask a lifesaver or lifeguard about the beach conditions
  • Wear a lifejacket while boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Don’t go into or on the ocean during severe weather warnings
  • Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety before entering the water
  • Supervise children at all times in, on and around water.

For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit

*Note: 2017/18 figures shown are derived from media reports with some details to be confirmed with the coronial database. As such, they should be considered interim, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations. Other figures are derived from coronial reports.

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