Some concerning drowning figures are coming out of Australia, with a national report detailing the statistics compiled during July 2020 and June 2021, which included the peak COVID-19 pandemic period.
According to Australia’s leading water safety authorities of the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA) and Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA), there were 294 drowning deaths in the past 12 months across the nation’s coastline, inland waterways and pools.
The 294 deaths represent a 20% increase over the previous year, with the report noting how Australia’s drowning death numbers increased immediately following large-scale lockdowns.
The report points to swimmers visiting unfamiliar locations, overestimating one’s ability and overall exhaustion from working from home, homeschooling, etc. as COVID-19 specific impacts on the drowning figures.
In response, the SLSA and RLSSA are putting together a strategic plan to combat the statistics, including targeted campaigns, encouraging download of the BeachSafe App and reinforcing child supervision around water.
RLSSA head Justin Scarr said of the report, “Royal Life Saving fears that many children will never return to lessons, so won’t meet the fundamental water safety benchmarks, and will miss out on the lifelong benefits of being able to swim. Young children need constant supervision around water, and pool owners should check their pool fence and gate is in good working order ahead of summer.
“We are concerned about the sharp increase in drowning deaths in inland waterways, particularly rivers. Alcohol and drugs are a key factor in drowning, and lead men to overestimate their swimming ability and underestimate the risks,” he said.
You can read the report in full here.