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summer so far, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has recorded 23 coastal related drowning deaths. This represents almost a quarter of all coastal drowning deaths this financial year occurring in a such a short period.

The call to ‘draw a line in the sand’ is a position being taken by surf lifesavers and lifeguards around the country with the plea to the community to adopt a philosophical ‘Think Line’. The objective to have all beach users and other aquatic users to have an imaginary line that they wont cross until they have spent a couple of minutes to consider their safety and those that are with them.

“We are asking all beachgoers to just take a couple of minutes to understand where they are going, what to do if something goes wrong, and have a plan in place that will hopefully ensure they won’t be placing themselves or others at risk.” Said Adam Weir, CEO Surf Life Saving Australia.

Last year 163 people lost their lives on the Australian coast, 110 of these due to drowning. Almost 50% (52 of 110) of coastal drowning deaths for 2017-18 occurred during the three months of last summer. This is the highest number recorded in the 14 years that SLSA has kept records and significantly above the average for the 14-year period of 37.

Males continue to be overrepresented in the coastal drowning statistics with 96% recorded for the summer period to date, with 4% (n=1) being female. Swimming and wading continues to be the primary activity at the time of incident, with rip currents known to have been a contributing factor in a number of drowning incidents.

The SLSA ‘Think Line’ campaign focusses on coastal visitors not rushing in, with the key take away messages being:

* STOP: don’t rush in, check the area for rips (if you know how to identify one – it can be hard)

* LOOK: are there other hazards such as waves, rocks

* PLAN: have a plan in place, find a patrolled beach, know what to do if something does go wrong.

Surf Life Saving Australia urges all heading to the beach to consider the following as part of their STOP, LOOK and PLAN process:

* 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 beachsafe.org.au

*Note: 2018/19 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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