Top Tips for a Safe Summer


Last year, 291 people in Australia lost their lives to drowning. These people were children, parents, grandparents and friends, whose loss has had a tragic impact on their families, rescuers and communities.

Drowning deaths occur year-round but peak over summer when Australians and tourists spend more time around our waterways. More than one third of lives lost to drowning took place in summer last year.

This summer, we're urging people to stay safe when in, on or around the water. Here are our top water safety tips to keep you and your family safe this holiday season.

Keep Watch of Your Children

29 children under the age of 5 drowned in Australian waterways last year.1 Swimming pools were the leading location for toddler drowning, accounting for 45% of all deaths.

A lapse in supervision is the number one contributing factor in toddler drowning deaths. Active supervision is vital. Be prepared, be close, and give all of your attention, all of the time. Don’t be distracted by other activities such as checking your phone, answering the door or preparing food. Always Keep Watch and stay within arm’s reach.

Check Your Pool Fence

Inadequate pool fencing continues to contribute to toddler drowning deaths. Often pool owners don’t realise their pool fence or gate is faulty and poses a threat to their children’s safety. Check regularly to ensure your pool fence, gates and latches are in working order, and remove anything that kids could use to climb over.

Click here to download the home pool safety checklist. We recommend getting in touch with your local council to discuss regulations and arrange for an inspection.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol can significantly increase the risk of drowning. Even small amounts of alcohol can delay your reaction time, inhibit your capacity to assess risk, and affect your swimming ability. Don’t drink alcohol when around water, and keep your mates out of trouble if they’ve been drinking and decide to go for a swim or take the boat out.

Always Wear a Lifejacket

Wearing a lifejacket doubles your chance of survival if you fall or are struggling in water.2 In Australia, lifejacket laws differ from state to state, however, we recommend always wearing a lifejacket when rock fishing, boating, or using watercraft such as kayaks, paddleboards or windsurfers.

Take Care of Medical Conditions

A pre-existing medical condition played a role in the chain of events that led to drowning in 66% of cases where a medical condition was known to be present.1 Cardiac conditions are the leading pre-existing condition impacting drowning deaths.

Know your limits. Have regular check-ups with your doctor, treat medical conditions, and don’t swim alone.

Never Swim Alone

Having someone with you when you’re in, on or around the water can help save your life if you get into trouble. Whether you’re heading down to the beach for a dip, taking the boat out, or going fishing, take someone with you. Not only are they great company, they can assist in an emergency.

Check conditions before going out

Check weather conditions and warnings before going out. You can download the official BOM app for the latest updates. When at the beach always check for rips and swim between the flags. When at a river, check for currents and submerged objects. Enter the water feet first and slowly.

Learn CPR and First Aid

Prevention is the fundamental way to avoid drowning, however, as a last line of defence, CPR is a vital life skill that can help save a life. Learn lifesaving skills so you can provide vital treatment in the event of an emergency. We run CPR and first aid training courses around the country. Click here to sign up for a course today.

Enjoy the water this summer, but do it responsibly. Drowning is preventable, so look after yourself and others around water. Explore our website for more information and resources.

[1] Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (2017) Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2016, Sydney Australia.

[2] O’Connor P. National Assessment of Boating Fatalities in Australia 1999 – 2004: The findings of phase 3 of the assessment of fatal and non-fatal injury due to boating in Australia. Australia: National Marine Safety Committee Inc., 2008.