THE Western Australian climate and lifestyle encourages much leisure and recreational activity around the water.
Over the summer holiday period, West Aussies and visitors alike will spend much of their time in pools, at beaches or rivers, enjoying a broad range of aquatic activities such as swimming, fishing and boating.
An unfortunate disadvantage of our love of water-related activity is injury and loss of life through drowning.
The risk factors and what it means to have ‘water safety’ vary throughout a person’s life.
As we head toward the busy Australia Day long weekend, it is important to remember some key water-safety messages.
If you have young children and/or a home pool – keep watch.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death of children under the age of five.
If you have a home pool, temporary inflatable pool or any body of water around the home, remember the following crucial action areas:
Supervise your child (if you are having a barbecue, appoint a supervisor to watch the children); provide barriers to water locations, familiarise your child with water and learn resuscitation.
Be aware that alcohol removes inhibitions, so a person is more likely to participate in risk-taking behaviour.
It affects co-ordination, which means a poorly executed dive could result in a serious spinal injury.
If you are going to an unfamiliar location, take the time to learn about the local conditions, risks and safe activities.
Ask a local where the safest places are.
If you are going to a patrolled beach, make sure you swim only between the flags.
Aquatic accidents are rarely freakish in nature, unpredictable or ‘part of life’.
Rather, many drownings are due to carelessness or ignorance and are definitely preventable.
Peter Leaversuch is the Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australia's general manager