The Talk

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

Senior Australians are at an increased risk of drowning. 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.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 Talk" with a loved one it can be helpful to have some key statistics on hand. Last year's National Drowning Report found that between 1 July 2014 and 30th June 2015:

  • There were 89 drowning deaths in people aged 55 years and over in Australian waterways.
  • Rivers, creeks and streams continue to be the leading location for drowning in older people with 26 deaths or 29% of all drowning deaths in this age group.
  • Beaches were the second leading location for drowning with 18 deaths (20%), followed by bathtubs / spa baths; and ocean / harbour locations with 11 deaths (12%) respectively.
  • Accidents involving watercraft claimed the largest number of lives in this age group, accounting for one fifth of all drownings.
  • Swimming and recreating was the second most common activity prior to drowning in this age group accounting for the deaths of 15 people.
  • A large number of people (17) were recreating alone when they drowned.

Aqua Skills 55+

An elderly man and woman with goggles on their head in a pool

Royal Life Saving WA's Aqua Skills 55+ program is designed to teach those over the age of 55 vital water safety, rescue and CPR skills.

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