RLS The Talk

Struggling to have "The Talk" with your parents about water safety?

Having "The Talk" with a loved one may be awkward, But the fact is – if you care about this person, it has to be done.

With so much life ahead, drowning in people over 55 is a preventable tragedy.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right moment, but you could have "The Talk" with a loved one at your next family gathering, party, BBQ or picnic. With the warmer weather and holiday season approaching now is the perfect time to have "The Talk".

Some examples of how other people have spoken to their Dad, Mum or other loved ones, include:

  • "You’re on medication and you like a drink and when you take the boat out, we worry about you".
  • "You haven't been feeling well lately and I know you like to swim every morning down at the beach by yourself, but if something was to go wrong we would prefer that you were at a public pool that has a lifeguard near by".
  • "You had an issue with the boat the other day and we worry about you fishing. It's dangerous for people over 55 and your body has its limitations, particularly with your dodgy knee. Can you please ensure that you always wear a lifejacket and only go out fishing with a mate".
  • "Now with the grandchildren being so active its a perfect time to revisit and learn lifesaving skills. There is an increased risk for people over 55 of drowning so why not use the extra time now that you have retired to enrol in a Grey Medallion course". 

In this video, a son decides to have "The Talk" with his father while fishing. If it’s done in the right way, "The Talk" can be a positive and potentially life saving conversation.



When having the conversation with family and friends, it can be helpful to have the facts at hand.

Royal Life Saving found between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2012:
  • 1,072 people aged 50+ drowned in Australian waterways.
  • 75% were males.
  • Alcohol was known to be involved in 37% of drowning deaths.
  • Underlying medical conditions were known to be present in 68% of people aged 65+. Common medical conditions included cardiac conditions, epilepsy and dementia.
  • New South Wales recorded 40% (425) of all drowning deaths.
  • The Northern Territory recorded the highest rate of drowning per 100,000 population with a rate of 4.56 compared to the National average of 1.63.
  • Over one third (35%) of all drowning deaths in people aged 50 and over during the study period took place in inland waterways (rivers, creeks, lakes and dams).
  • A further one fifth (20%) occurred in ocean / harbour locations.
  • Accidents involving watercraft were the leading activity prior to drowning among older people accounting for 22% of all drowning deaths.
  • Accidental falls into water accounted for a further 18% of drowning deaths among older people.