Drowning warning issued as Victoria records worst six months for drowning fatalities

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is urging all Victorians to be vigilant around water this New Year period after the State recorded 35 drowning fatalities since July 1. 

The total number of deaths exceeds all records for the period 1 July to 28 December and surpasses last year’s total of 34 drowning deaths. 

Toddlers and children aged 0 – 14 are the most at risk with 12 recorded drownings (representing 34% of the six-month total). It is also the highest number of drowning deaths for this age group in over 20 years (since 1999/2000). 

LSV’s Principal Research Associate, Dr Bernadette Matthews says every drowning is a sad reminder of the need to play it safe by the water. 

“Our thoughts go out to all of the families and friends following these tragic incidents,” Dr Matthews said. 

“Sadly, Victoria has recorded the worst six months from July to December since detailed drowning record taking began and it’s a reminder for everyone to be vigilant around water”. 

“As the summer period goes on, LSV is urging parents to take time to check for water safety risks in and around the home including ensuring home pools and spas have been well maintained and have compliant barriers”. 

“Active supervision is crucial when children are in, on or around the water, especially in light of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions which saw an estimated 145,000 children per week miss vital swimming lessons”. 

“20 seconds is all it takes for a child to drown, always keep children under 5 within arms’ reach and children under 10 within eyesight.” 

Children are not the only age group of concern. More than 30% of drowning deaths of people aged over 15 involve alcohol or drugs and Dr Matthews is urging Victorians not to mix alcohol and swimming this new year’s period. 

“As we know, alcohol affects our swimming ability and judgement of dangerous situations. So, if you are out celebrating the new year, plan ahead. Don’t drink and swim, and make sure you look out for your mates around water”. 

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