After a tragic week on the West Australian coast, with a number of fatalities and a search still underway for a young male who went missing off Scarborough on Monday evening, Surf Life Saving WA is imploring beachgoers to exercise caution when heading to the beach this summer.
“We know many people will be recreating at the beach over the Christmas and summer period,” said Surf Life Saving WA General Manager of Lifesaving, Chris Peck.
“We want them to have fun, enjoy themselves, and most importantly, to go home safely.”
Statistics* show there have been 12 deaths on WA beaches so far this year, a 71% increase on the same time last year.
Forty-two per cent of these fatalities occurred while undertaking recreational activities including swimming, snorkelling and surfing; 33 per cent are attributed to boating and fishing incidents; and 16 per cent to a slip or fall or being knocked over by a wave.
Contrary to popular belief, Mr Peck said that Australian residents comprise 92 per cent of these fatalities, and overwhelming males, who represented 83 per cent of the statistics.
“There is a common misconception, that perhaps makes people complacent, that the majority of these fatalities are visitors or recent migrants; however, we know that not to be the case”, said Mr Peck.
“Males also continue to be overrepresented in these statistics.”
“The biggest mistake we continue to see people make is to overestimate their abilities in the surf, and underestimate the potential for getting into trouble,” he said.
Surf Life Saving WA encourages people to plan their trip to the beach and, wherever possible, to choose a location with lifesaver patrols and flagged areas.
“Being beach safe really does start before you even get to the beach,” said Mr Peck.
“There are plenty of resources available online which will help you choose a suitable location, by both conditions and the presence of surf lifesavers on patrol”.
“Once you are at the beach, wherever possible, swim between the red and yellow flags where our lifesavers can best see you should you get into trouble, and always keep an eye on your friends and family, especially children, when around the water.”
“Surf Life Saving WA also offers a range of beach safety programs for both children and their parents, to ensure they are properly equipped to enjoy our wonderful coastline,” said Mr Peck.
To find out when and where lifesavers are on patrol at WA beaches, visit mybeach.com.au/mybeach
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