Approximately 1.8 million Australian adults participate in surfing and 1.5 million participate in other watercraft activities, with frequent participants spending around 200 hours in the water each year.
During the 13-year period 2004-17 there have been 100 recorded drowning deaths of surfers and paddlers. On average, at least eight people drown per year as a result of using non-powered watercraft. It’s the fourth highest number of drowning deaths for an individual activity.
The majority of victims were male (95%), with at least 87% being Australian residents. More than half (55%) of these incidents occurred because of a medical issue or injury and a further 19% involved rip currents.
Other key findings include:
- 51% of victims were surfing
- 17% of victims were body boarding
- 13% of victims were kayaking
“With so many people actively using watercraft along the coastline it is essential that people know their limitations and what to do if something goes wrong. Simple things like checking conditions and equipment can save your life,” Shane Daw, National Coastal Risk & Safety Manager SLSA said.
“Ensuring you have the right equipment, wearing safety devices such as lifejackets when on paddle craft and checking surf and weather conditions prior to heading out are all lifesaving methods.”
Surf Life Saving Australia urges all watercraft users to:
- Wear a lifejacket on paddle craft
- Check tides, weather and surf conditions
- Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety
- Only go out in conditions that are appropriate to your skill level
- Wear the right gear i.e. lifejacket, wetsuit, leg rope
- Avoid using watercraft under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Call 000 if assistance is required.
Click here to view the Coastal Safety Brief on Surfing and Watercrafts.