Beach safety a priority this summer

As another summer approaches, there are concerns surrounding beach safety in WA in light of an increasing number of coastal drowning deaths in recent times.

The 2018/19 season regrettably saw a 31 percent spike in coastal drowning deaths and there are worries that this trend could continue.

Lifesavers set up between the flags at Trigg. Photo: Calvin Sims.

Forty-seven percent of these drowning deaths occurred in regional areas and 29 percent were traceable to severe weather conditions.

Royal Surf Lifesaving health promotion and research officer Belinda Fleay said there are plenty of measures people can take to ensure safety on our beaches.

“Each beach has a General Hazard Rating which can be seen on the Beachsafe website,” she said.

“There is also a list of hazards specific to each beach so beachgoers can make an informed decision about how they recreate at the beach.”

Trigg Beach is one of Perth’s most popular. Photo: Calvin Sims.

Fleay said there are statistics which indicate certain risk factors for people to be aware of.

“Rips still pose the greatest risk for people participating in swimming in the ocean,” she said.

Fleay said the data indicates males are generally more likely to be involved in incidents than their female counterparts.

“Male drowning rates are higher, generally because they have higher risk taking behaviour and higher participation rates in activities like rock fishing,” she said.

Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report (WA).

Club Manager at the City of Perth Lifesaving Club Patrick Anderson said inexperienced swimmers should take extra care when swimming at Perth beaches so as to avoid any safety incidents.

“I would say people who aren’t from the coast are definitely more susceptible to requiring assistance.

“Whether they’re from overseas or inland Australia, we have quite a lot of trouble with people who have travelled a long way to the beach,” he said.

Lifeguard at Trigg Island Surf Lifesaving Jesse stressed the need to look out for signage and to swim between the flags.

Floreat Beach always attracts thousands in summer. Photo: Calvin Sims.

“We put the flags up from October till the end of April and it’s obviously the safest because it’s the most watched.

“Other things to look out for are the no swimming signs and unfortunately those get ignored sometimes,” he said.

Jesse said there are beach spots to be aware of.

“Up at Trigg, we have a very notorious beach spot called Blue Hole where the reef goes all the way out.

“In summer, when you get such prominent south-westerly breezes, all this current hits the reef like a brick wall and it all has to get back out,” he said.

“It creates a deep channel all the way from the shore to the back, so it’s always a really strong current there and it has a bit of a reputation.”

The Royal Surf Life Saving Drowning report is available on their website below.