Following the tragic drowning of a tourist jumping off rocks at Blackwall Reach in Perth yesterday and the emergence of video of a toddler accessing a backyard swimming pool in a matter of seconds, WA injury prevention experts are calling on community members throughout the State to remain hyper vigilant around water this summer.
It is a timely reminder given the recent spike in drownings across the country, reversing a decade-long downward trend.
With months to go of hot weather in Western Australia, safety experts caution that the worst may be yet to come, with February and March traditionally among the hottest months of the year when West Australians head to the water to cool off.
The warning follows a horror period in WA in November last year when four people drowned in separate incidents in a single weekend.
Royal Life Saving Society of WA spokesperson, Lauren Nimmo, said that 14 people have drowned in Western Australia since October 2016.
“This figure does not include the 117 people admitted to hospital with drowning related injuries and the 112 people in WA who presented at emergency departments following a non-fatal drowning,” she said.
Western Australia recorded 37 drowning deaths in 2015/2016, equating to a drowning rate of 1.4 per 100,000 head of population, effectively the third highest in the country according to the latest figures from Royal Life Saving WA.
Injury Control Council of WA acting chief executive, Sandy Lukjanowski, said that the WA Health Department’s Incidence and Cost of Injury Report, which was released last month, showed that the average cost of drowning in Western Australia was estimated at $1,272,144.
Drowning is recognised as one of the leading causes of injury in Western Australia with the most drownings in WA occurring in the three months from December to February. 1
The most recent data shows that both the number and cost of drownings in Western Australia has risen in the ten years to 2012, with those under the age of four most likely to be hospitalised or fatally injured due to drowning.2
Both ICCWA and RLSSWA are urging all Western Australians to be extra vigilant around water during the coming hot months ahead and to avoid making poor decisions that potentially have life threatening consequences.
ICCWA joins the RLSSWA in reminding all Western Australians about some simple guidelines to keep safe around water this summer.
- Ensure all children are adequately supervised by an adult around water
- Restrict access to backyard and inflatable pools, ponds and water features
- Teach children water awareness and enrol them in swimming and water safety programs as early as possible
- Learn CPR – Royal Life Saving runs CPR courses in all states and territories
- Don’t be distracted by mobile phones, doorbells and other distractions
- Assess your environment – whether that be the ocean, river or pool – before you swim
- Don’t mix alcohol and water
- Always wear a lifejacket when boating