The latest drowning figures are incredibly disappointing and make bleak reading, says the CEO of Royal Life Saving (RLS) Rob Bradley. He made the comments as he launched the 2012 National Drowning Report.
However, pool drowning numbers have improved in a number of categories.
“Overall there has been absolutely no improvement in drowning in most age groups for five years now. In some age groups the drowning toll is still rising. Public awareness of the dangers of water still appears to be very low. The number of drowning deaths in inland waterways is up 13 per cent on the five year average. It’s clear that more work needs to be done in reducing drowning in Australia.”
Swimming pool drownings fared better than some other categories, with the eight drownings of children aged 0-4 in 2011/12 compared to the five-year average of 17. Swimming pools continue to account for the largest number of drowning deaths in the 0-4 category, but most of the reduction in drownings in the overall category has come from the swimming pools segment.
“It’s certainly positive to see that there’s been a reduction in drowning deaths in this total category from the five year average of 32 to 21 this year,” says Bradley. “We hope that trend continues. In this age group we are on track to achieve a 50 per cent reduction by 2020 if parents and carers of young children remain vigilant and employ strategies such as active supervision. However the number of bathtub drowning deaths is alarming and more work is needed in this area.”
Bradley attributes the decline in drowning deaths of children aged under five over the past four years to increased parental awareness of the importance of child supervision, restricting a child’s access to water, the role of water awareness and learning CPR.
However, he says backyard swimming pools have been the real focus of recent prevention efforts, and other categories need improvement.
In the category 5-14, swimming pool drowning reduced to one, compared with the five-year average of four; in the 15-24 category they were down to two compared with the five-year average of four; and in the 55 years and over category they were down to eight compared with the five-year average of 12.
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