Cabarita Beach lifesavers Aodhan Wilson, Mikaylah Heck and Joanne Howes at a training session.
Cabarita Beach lifesavers Aodhan Wilson, Mikaylah Heck and Joanne Howes at a training session. Blainey Woodham

Deaths in surf reduced

THE commitment of surf lifesaving volunteers has resulted in fewer drownings across the nation.

Coastal drowning data released by Surf Life Saving Australia showed 4605 individuals were rescued by surf lifesavers this summer and there were 20 drowning deaths Australia-wide.

This is a significant reduction in the summer drowning toll of 27 during the 2009/10 summer.

Cabarita Beach Surf Life Saving president Patrick Raftery said the number of Tweed volunteers resulted in safer beaches.

“We have never had a fatality on our beach,” Mr Raftery said. “

There is a lot more advertising concerning beach safety at the moment and people are more aware of the dangers.

“Quite possibly it is also the high number of volunteers we have which help to keep our beaches safe.”

Nine drowning deaths occurred over the summer months in New South Wales, making up 45% of the overall total.

SLSA's coastal safety services manager Matthew Thompson said even while drowning deaths were down markedly from the previous summer, every drowning death was one too many.

“While it is pleasing to see a reduction in coastal drowning deaths, the majority of these could have been avoided if simple beach safety advice was followed. We still see people swimming outside the red-and-yellow flags, and that is where all 20 drowning deaths occurred,” Mr Thompson said.

“The unseasonably bad weather conditions we've experienced on the Australian coastline this summer has, anecdotally, impacted the number of people visiting the beach, and this has been reflected in the drowning statistics.

“However, on days when we've had much-warmer weather, the number of drownings and rescues performed by surf lifesavers have been still been higher.”

A spate of rip-related drownings in January highlighted the danger they pose on Australian beaches, and Mr Thompson believes that unless beachgoers heed basic warnings, rip-related drownings will continue to occur.



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