November 5 - 11, 2023: Issue 604


Spotlight On Water Safety For Seniors In NSW This Summer: 43% Increase In Drownings In Past 12 Months

The NSW Government is partnering with Royal Life Saving NSW in its Active Adults campaign to highlight the importance of water safety for seniors this summer.

The Active Adults campaign encourages participation, and the low impact nature of aquatic activity makes it an ideal form of activity and recreation.

Research from Royal Life Saving NSW shows that in the past 12 months there were 281 drowning deaths, with 57% an adult 45 years and older. Those aged over 65 represented 27% of fatal drownings and there’s been a 43% increase in the past 20 years.

The top three drowning deaths of those 65 years and older were swimming and recreating (32%), fall (16%) and boating (9%).

People over 65 are encouraged to follow these five tips to enjoying aquatic recreation:

  1. share the fun with someone.
  2. wear a lifejacket when on the water.
  3. check any medications don’t interfere with your ability to swim.
  4. watch your step around water.
  5. know your limits and avoid taking risks.

Royal Life Saving NSW is a leader in drowning prevention and water safety education in the state.

Toolkits and guides are available

Minister for Seniors Jodie Harrison said:

“With a hot summer expected, there was need for older people to keep water safety top of mind when planning a day in, on or near the water.

“There’s been a concerning increase in drowning deaths in older people and we want to make sure our seniors can enjoy the water safely – whether it is participating in watersport or simply walking around it.

“We know that when we focus on water safety in young people, we get results, with a 33% decrease in drowning deaths in 0-4 year olds.

“By partnering with Royal Life Saving NSW on this campaign, the Government wants to amplify the message that water recreation is a great way to stay active and fit, while emphasising that water safety must remain top of mind for people of all ages, especially for our seniors.”

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“Australia is lucky to have great beaches, lakes and rivers that many enjoy spending time at.

“Now as the weather starts heating up, it’s a good time to focus on how everyone can stay safe in and around water.”

“Raising awareness of the dangers for older people, such as watching out for trip and fall hazards near water, is important for making sure everyone can enjoy a day out at the beach.”

CEO of Royal Life Saving NSW Michael Ilinsky said:

“Preventing drowning in older people is a priority because Australians are remaining more active into their later years and are well-placed to realise the benefits of fun fitness and recreation activities.

“Participation rates show older Australians are highly motivated to stay connected with their communities, however 75 per cent of people over 65 are under-active.

“We want people of all ages and abilities to be ready to enjoy the summer. The Active Adults campaign will ensure we’re providing appropriate water safety education to keep people active, social and safe.”