Drowning report’s message: Respect rivers

We’ve finally seen the first drops of rainfall on our parched Shire in quite some time. Here’s hoping for more in the days and weeks to come ahead of what is predicted to be a harsh summer.

Thoughts are inevitably turning to the best local spots to cool off. 

Whether for you that means the newly reopening outdoor pools across the region, our beaches that have just been rated as “excellent”, or for something perhaps a splash more peaceful, local streams and rivers.

However, just as our beaches and pools come with safety messages, so to do rivers – and these don’t have the benefit of professional patrols watching over them.

More than 1000 people have drowned in Australian rivers over the past 15 years, new research reveals.

Royal Life Saving Society Australia’s latest report into drownings shows 1113 people have lost their lives in the country’s rivers, creeks and streams since July 1, 2002.

The latest Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report, released on Thursday, shows that, in the past year alone, 68 people died in rivers around the country, making them the leading location for drowning.

Overall, 291 people drowned in Australia, including in swimming pools, lakes, beaches and baths. There were also an estimated 685 incidents requiring hospitalisation in the 12 months to July 2017.

According to the report, men are at most risk, drowning at a rate four times that of women – accounting for 74 per cent of all drowning deaths and 81 per cent of deaths in rivers. Alarmingly, of the men who drowned, more than half (51 per cent) had a contributory level of drugs or alcohol in their system.

In NSW, 402 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2016. Of those,  77 per cent were male. The leading age group was 35 to 44-year-olds accounting for 15 per cent of all river drowning deaths in NSW.

It is often assumed tourists account for the majority of drowning deaths. However, Royal Life Saving research revealed 74 per cent of people who drowned in the country’s rivers were locals to the area.

People are asked to follow four simple steps to reduce their drowning risk in rivers.

Wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol and drugs around water, never swim alone and learn how to save a life. 

As RLSSA CEO Justin Scarr says, “It’s simple, respect the river.”