West Australians urged to Make The Right Call on water safety

9 December 2020

Latest drowning figures show that in the past ten years, 149 adults aged 45 years and over have drowned in Western Australia, accounting for half of all drownings recorded in our state during this time. Of these, the majority occurred at coastal locations (62%) followed by home swimming pools (12%) and rivers (11%). The most common activities being undertaken at the time were swimming/snorkelling (22%), boating (19%) and fishing (11%).

While overall drowning has decreased in Western Australia over the past ten years, rates amongst adults have increased by 5%. Lauren Nimmo, Senior Manager – Royal Life Saving Society WA says “There have been many positive drowning prevention outcomes in Western Australia in recent years, with significant decreases recorded in childhood and toddler drowning. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for adults who have consistently recorded high rates of drowning each year, highlighting them as a priority age group for drowning prevention.”

Phil Prosser with Royal Life Saving WA's Lauren Nimmo by the pool at HBF StadiumIn response to these alarming statistics, Royal Life Saving WA is today launching a new campaign encouraging adults to understand the risks that drowning poses to them and their friends, and to ‘Make the Right Call’ when it comes to safety around the water. Lauren Nimmo says, “Most people in this age group have spent a lifetime around the water, so it is easy to become complacent about the risks. This campaign is about challenging the misconception that drowning won’t happen to them and providing them with the knowledge and skills to ‘Make the Right Call’ and be prepared for aquatic activity.”

“This generation are constantly told to watch out for others. We have turned this thought around by simply telling them to watch out for themselves. We are asking them to take control and take charge of themselves, which will empower them to be confident and make the right choices when around water.”

Men are at the greatest risk of drowning with 78% of adult drowning incidents involving men. Lauren Nimmo says “Men taking risks and overestimating their abilities continues to be our greatest challenge. Men believe they are strong swimmers and can get themselves out of trouble if they ever needed to. However, they don’t take into consideration the impact that age and health have on their abilities, and often underestimate the power of the water.”

Phil Prosser knows all too well how things can go wrong. While training for an Ironman event at his local pool in 2017, Phil experienced a heart attack and blacked out in the water. Luckily, he was rescued by lifeguards employed at the centre who performed CPR, saving his life. Phil says, “This was the fittest time of my life and I considered myself a very strong swimmer, drowning was the last thing on my mind, I was never worried if there was a lifeguard around or not. Fortunate for me and my family they were there for me on this day, and I am forever thankful to them for saving my life. Even the strongest swimmers can drown, please do yourself a favour and swim where there is a lifeguard and importantly where the lifeguard can see you.”

With the start of summer in full swing, Royal Life Saving is urging everyone to Make the Right Call and be prepared to enjoy the water. Whether they are swimming laps at their local pool, heading out on a boat with mates or fishing at their favourite spot, follow these simple tips to stay safe:

  • KNOW THE CONDITIONS – check local weather and water conditions
  • KNOW YOUR LIMITS – alcohol and water don’t mix / if you’re taking medication, check with your doctor before jumping in
  • KNOW YOUR GEAR – wear a lifejacket and take a mate
  • KNOW WHAT TO DO – learn lifesaving skills

Make the Right Call is delivered in partnership with the Western Australian Department of Health.

You can read more about our Make The Right Call campaign at the link below.

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