Safety on the water urged

Cecilia AllenSound Telegraph

As the weather warms up, boaters and water users are being encouraged to be vigilant around water and stay safe ahead of Australia Day.

According to the Royal Life Saving Drowning Report for 2016-17, 42 drowning deaths were recorded in WA.

The research indicated swimming and recreation was the most common activity being undertaken at the time of the incident.

Boating incidents, diving incidents, and watercraft incidents were also significant contributors to drowning deaths.

Royal Life Saving WA’s senior manager of health promotion and research Lauren Nimmo said summer was the most common time of year for drowning and encouraged people to be “extra vigilant” when around water.

“On average 35 West Australians drown each year and almost 200 people are admitted to hospital or visit the emergency department following non-fatal drowning,” she said.

Rockingham Volunteer Sea Rescue Group public relations officer Craig Bryce encouraged boaters to have the appropriate safety gear aboard, stored in an area where it is accessible and know how to use it.

“Make sure it is stored correctly and it’s not going to fall down and cause injury,” he said.

“The other message we want to really push: if you’re the skipper, you’re responsible for the persons on board.”

Ms Nimmo said on average each year around 30 per cent of drowning deaths recorded in WA are contributed to by alcohol and the risk is particularly high for young people

It’s not just a quiet drink with friends, with the majority of people involved recording blood alcohol levels more than four times the legal limit for driving,

she said.

Mr Bryce encouraged people to wear life jackets and ensure child-ren were also wearing them.

He also urged boaters to also log on and off via radio or phone before heading out on the waters and to be courteous to other people at the boat ramps.

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