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Fears water safety campaigns no longer working:

Drowning deaths in Australia have barely budged from the rate of five years ago, leading to fears that water safety campaigns are no longer working.
By Motherpedia
Date: September 21 2012
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Some 284 people drowned in Australian waters, waterways, pools and bathtubs in 2011/12, according to Royal Life Saving's annual report.

That's down from 310 in the previous year and the first drop since 2006/07, but still more than the 261 who drowned five years ago.

Royal Life Saving boss Rob Bradley says education campaigns are falling on deaf ears.

"Overall there has been absolutely no improvement in drownings in most age groups for five years now," he said in Canberra on Thursday, adding public awareness was still very low.

Men accounted for most of the drownings in the year to June 30, 2012 - 232 of the 284 victims.

One in four drownings happened in a river or creek (26 per cent) - although taking in all inland waterways, including lakes and lagoons, the figure jumps to 37 per cent.

The beach was the scene of 19 per cent and the ocean 15 per cent.

People aged 55 or over were most at risk, making up 34 per cent of total drownings, followed by the 15-24 bracket (16 per cent), the 35-44 group (13 per cent) and the 0-4 group (seven per cent).

Mr Bradley urged all Australians to be mindful that most drownings happened in rivers and lakes, not at the beach, and outside major cities.

Men were more likely to ignore warnings or put themselves in dangerous situations, he said.

But he said many of the 98 men aged 18-44 who drowned last year would have missed out on adequate water education.

Mr Bradley urged parents to take greater responsibility to ensure their kids were safe around water.

The number of children under five who drowned in bathtubs soared 75 per cent above the five-year average.

One-third of all drownings in that age bracket in 2011/12 were in bathtubs or spas.

Royal Life Saving, which directs most of its attention to preventing child drownings, said the problem was slipping under the radar, despite a lot of good work to prevent pool deaths.

All states and territories reported drownings, with NSW recording 105 of the total 284.

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Deirdre says: 2012 09 21

It is indeed a worry that the drowning figures have remained stable in spite of all the education, advertising and more babies/children having swimming lessons than ever before. With regard to babies/toddlers/preschoolers in particular, nothing replaces vigilance. I understand drowing is a silent death and it can happen very quickly. I am not condemning people at all. However, you really can’t afford to take your eyes off them for second. Back yard swimming pools really probably shouldn’t be allowed. How many times do we hear that someone had left the latch unlocked? - or a child has stood on something and climbed over? Swimming lessons for very young children are actually counter productive. I remember reading an article titled, “Groomed to drown,” which is exactly what we are doing by taking babies/toddlers/preschoolers to swimming lessons. Fear is a built in safety factor to protect us. Take that fear of water away by taking these young children to swimming lessons and you really are grooming them to drown. If they do fall into the water, in panic are they really going to remember what they’ve been taught? Maybe? Maybe not? My grand daughter recently hopped in the bath and started “swimming” like she had at lessons. The tap had been left running, doubling the danger that she could have drowned as well as getting scalded with hot water. For older people, people who aren’t confident swimmers are unlikely to get themselves in situations that they can’t get out of by going into deep water. How often do you hear of an experienced swimmer drowning? Is that not because he/she knows he/she is a good swimmer and is invincible when it comes to water? Yes, maybe someone may fall out of a boat and if he/she can’t swim, he/she may well drown if there’s noone there to rescure him/her. Oh, that’s right; he/she would be wearing a life jacket - probably not. How often too do you hear of a boat capsizing, people drowning and NOONE was wearing a life jacket. Are life jackets not akin to seat belts in cars? Yes, we do read of people getting thrown out of cars still who obviously have not been wearing seat belts. Neither do I understand that.

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