LSV warns of worsening drowning figures

May 8, 2024 BY

Fairhaven SLSC lifeguard Mark Scotland standing watch. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

LIFE Saving Victoria’s (LSV) head spokesperson has pleaded with Victorians to remain safe around the water, as patrols pull away from beaches for the winter months.

LSV general manager of life saving services Liam Krige fronted the media last week, warning drownings could continue to rise following the state’s highest yearly fatality count in more than 20 years.

“We’re deeply saddened to see drowning incidents continue to increase across Victoria, and we’re concerned at the upward trend that’s been forming over the last five years,” he said.

More than 6,000 volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards logged in over 250,000 patrol hours on Victorian beaches over the summer between November and April.

“Water safety is everyone’s responsibility. Any body of water can be deadly, and our volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards can’t be everywhere, so it’s vital everyone takes personal responsibility and stays informed about the risks before entering any waterway.

“Check the conditions, read safety signs, and prepare by acquiring or refreshing your water safety skills. Before diving into the water at any location plan ahead, don’t let it be your last swim.”

Mr Krige said it is the highest number of drownings recorded in this period since detailed records began in 2000, breaking the previous record of 24 drownings, set during the previous 2022/23 summer period.

Victorian life savers conducted 850 rescues in Victorian waters over the past year, but tragically there were 26 fatal drowning incidents across coastal, inland, and home or other water bodies.

The 850 rescues signalled a 40 per cent increase on the five-year average.

The Barwon region did not go unscathed over the summer period.

A 12-year-old girl drowned off Collendina in September, an Irish tourist drowned off Anglesea on New Year’s Day, and an Anglesea father of two died off Barwon Heads in February during a boating accident.

Acting Emergency Management Commissioner Tim Wiebusch said LSV volunteers and lifeguards are highly skilled at saving lives, but emergency rescues are our last line of defence in preventing drownings.

“To keep our community safe in and around the water, everyone must play their part,” he said.

Lifesaving clubs across the Surf Coast and Bellarine have been taking down patrol flags in recent weeks, while final patrols ended over the Anzac Day weekend.

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