Australians drowning in water away from home new research shows

More than one-third of all Australians who drown died more than 50km from home, new Royal Life Saving research has found, prompting an urgent warning as people plan post-pandemic reunions away from home with family and friends.

Unfamiliar swimming, boating, and fishing spots increased the risk of drowning. Sandbars, rips, unpredictable currents, debris below the water surface and swiftly changing local conditions are all often well-known to locals, but harder to spot by visitors.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia Chief Executive Officer, Justin Scarr said the new research showed that more than half of all Australians would travel to an aquatic location over the summer, including rivers, swimming pools, harbours and beaches.

“After the past two years, we know people are eager to get out, explore our waterways and relax,” Mr Scarr said.

“Royal Life Saving is urging everyone to enjoy themselves, but to prepare and brush up on safety precautions, especially in unfamiliar locations.

“Our research shows more than half of all adults will drink alcohol around the water and we know alcohol is one of the biggest risk factors for drowning among adults.

“Add to that the fact a lot of us have been out of the water during the pandemic and are out-of-practice and you have a perfect storm. So please, avoid alcohol, avoid going alone and wear a lifejacket when swimming, fishing or boating so you make it home safely.”

The best thing parents and carers can do to protect children is to make sure they are always within arm’s reach when you are in the water.

Wherever you are in Australia, these are our top five tips to enjoy the water safely:  

  • Always supervise children around water
  • Avoid alcohol around water
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating and fishing
  • Avoid going alone
  • Know the conditions

Royal Life Saving is again running its summer drowning toll this year. As at 7 December 2021, 10 Australians have already lost their lives to drowning.