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December, with 19 of these being drowning related. The 19 coastal drowning deaths represent a 19% spike above last year and the 10-year average for the same period.

In the first two days of the new year there have been FIVE coastal drowning deaths and another two lives lost to unintentional coastal fatalities.

SLSA has reported a total number of 30 deaths on the Australian coastline this Summer (1 December 2021 – 2 January 2022), with 19 of those reported as coastal drowning deaths.

The thirty coastal deaths represents almost one death every day of summer, with the coastal drowning rate being two drowning deaths every three days for this period.

Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Adam Weir said that one coastal drowning death is too many.

“We have unfortunately seen five drowning deaths in the first two days of 2022, which is very concerning. There have also been two other coastal fatalities due to reasons other than drowning – all of these deaths are tragic and have an unquantifiable effect on families, friends and first responders,” said Weir.

“Summer and holidays are a great time to be on our coastline with family and friends and we want everyone to enjoy this time and return home safely. For this reason, we are urging all who visit our coastline to undertake some simple measures such as swimming at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags, wear a lifejacket when rock fishing, boating or using watercraft and always supervising children on, in and around water.”

Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck, also issued an urgent reminder to communities across the nation not to become complacent after a string of tragedies left families devastated.

“Drowning deaths have a devastating impact on families, particularly when children are involved,” Minister Colbeck said.

“The latest incidents serve as an important reminder for Australians to look out for their loved ones, read the safety signs, swim between flags and follow the advice from Surf Life Saving volunteers and lifeguards who work tirelessly to keep us safe.”

Swimming and wading is recorded as the number one activity being undertaken at time of drowning representing 42% of coastal drowning deaths this summer, with rip currents known to be a significant factor in these drownings deaths. Rock fishing (16%) and falls (11%) followed by snorkelling, attempting a rescue and watercraft all other activities being undertaken when drowning has occurred.

Men continue to be overrepresented in the drowning statistics accounting for 79% (n=15) of the coastal drowning deaths along Australia’s coastline.

“It is also important to recognise and thank our volunteer surf lifesavers who have had a busy start to Summer across the country,” added Weir.  “We know this number would be much higher without their dedication and commitment to keeping our coastline and their community safe”.

For more information on how to stay safe when visiting the beach this summer, or find your nearest patrolled location, visit www.beachsafe.org.au or download the BeachSafe APP.

For all the latest coastal drowning trends – click here for the 2021 National Coastal Safety Report.

Key coastal safety tips:

  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
  • Supervise children at all times on, in and around water
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or on watercraft
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs when around water
  • Seek the advice of surf lifesavers or lifeguards
  • STOP, LOOK, PLAN
    • STOP – check for key dangers ie rip currents
    • LOOK – for other hazards
    • PLAN – to stay safe, to swim at a patrolled beach
  • Visit BeachSafe to find a patrolled beach: https://beachsafe.org.au/

2021/22 Summer Coastal Drowning Toll (1 December 2021 – 2 January 2022) :

  • National – 19 drowning deaths
  • New South Wales – 9
  • Queensland – 4
  • Victoria – 3
  • South Australia – 3
  • Summer 2020/21 (1 December 2020 – 2 January 2021) – 16 drowning deaths
  • 10-year average (1 December – 2 January) – 16 drowning deaths
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