By Derek Schlennstedt
Inland waterways have been identified as the most prominent location for drownings in Australia.
In Australia between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017, there were 97 drowning deaths in inland waterways including rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, dams and lagoons. Of these, 68 occurred in rivers, creeks or streams and 29 in lakes, dams or lagoons.
New data by Royal Life Saving identified that in Victoria the Yarra River was the third worst river in the state for drowning.
Since 1 July, there have been 37 drownings in the Yarra, most within the city limits and statistics showed that nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of drowning deaths in rivers were locals who drowned within 100km of their place of residence.
Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr said that although esidents might have a regular swimming location, the conditions could change quickly.
“Conditions in rivers can change rapidly … Just because you might regularly visit an area, doesn’t mean the environment will be the same the next time you go,” Mr Scarr said.
“Rivers can be very hazardous environments. Often you cannot see ice cold water, rocks, snags like tree branches or strong currents.”
“It’s vital that people are aware of these hazards and Respect the River.”
Royal Life Saving research also revealed that 1113 people drowned in Australian rivers, creeks and streams over the past 15 years with males accounting for 81 per cent of these drowning deaths.
The research was released as part of the ‘respect the river’ campaign by Royal Life Saving which focuses on educating tourists and residents about taking care around rivers.
“Australian rivers are beautiful and can be great places to recreate, from boating to swimming to kayaking and even taking in the environment along the river bank.”
“We want everyone to enjoy these beautiful natural environments, but to do so safely, by showing rivers the respect they deserve” says Justin Scarr CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.