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Water safety a focus this summer

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

As the warmer months arrive and Australians head to pools and waterways to cool off, people are reminded to take extra care in and around water during the most dangerous time of year for drowning.

Life Saving Victoria’s Drowning Report 2022-23 revealed there were 59 fatal drownings in the state in the past financial year, a 33 per cent increase on the 10-year average.

Forty-one per cent of incidents occurred in summer, with regional residents 1.5 times more likely to drown than those in metropolitan areas.

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While drownings on inland and coastal waterways in the past year were largely consistent with the 10-year average, there was an 88 per cent increase in drownings that occurred in water bodies around the home such as pools and bathtubs.

Life Saving Victoria research and evaluation manager Hannah Calverley said Victorians needed to be aware of that waterways around the home were a risk.

“Children always need to be actively and constantly supervised in and around aquatic environments, whether that’s around the home, beach or a river,” she said.

People aged 65 years and over recorded the highest drowning rate for 2022-23, while males recorded more than double the number of incidents as females at 42 to 17.

In a dramatic increase on the 10-year average, eight drownings were recorded as a result of disasters or extreme weather.

Meanwhile, there was a 22 per cent reduction on the 10-year average in fatal drownings for people aged zero to 14.

“Water safety is such an important lifelong skill for children to learn and Life Saving advocates for all parents and caregivers to enrol their children in swimming and water safety lessons,” Dr Calverley said.

“We know many child-related drownings occur because of accidental entry through things like slips, trips, and falls, but it’s really imperative they learn how to get out of a situation that’s dangerous.”

The Review reported in October that Wallan eight-year-old Jax Murphy saved his friend from drowning in a house pool using skills learned at his swimming lessons.

Jax and his seven-year-old friend were playing outside when they lost their ball over his house’s pool fence.

While Jax attempted to retrieve it using a pool net, his friend went to the opposite end of the pool but fell in and began to struggle.

@kelmur77 8 year old saves friend from drowning. #swimming #swim #drown #drowning #rescue #lifesaver #hero #swimminghero #lifesaving #lifesavingskills #kingswim #swimmersafety #savedlife #herochild #childhero #drowningrescue #heroboy #boyhero #swimmingskills #learntoswim #drowned #drowningchild #neardeath #almostdied #learntoswim #swimschool #littlehero #drowningvictim #cantswim #almostdrowned #aussie #australia #aussiekid #aussiehero ♬ Sad Music – Max-Music

Watch the security camera footage of Jax saving his friend from drowning.

When Jax attempted to help, he was pulled in as well.

Within 30 seconds, Jax was able to react quickly and help his friend towards the pool steps to safety, despite being constantly pushed underwater.

Mother Kellie said while it was important to learn swimming techniques and strokes, it was equally important for children to learn water survival skills.

“I know that because of the years of lessons Jax has had, it helped him to remain calm, and to use the net as a device to assist him retrieve the ball,” she said.

“I don’t consider swimming lessons a choice – they are compulsory for my kids, and I don’t include it in their ‘choice of extracurricular sport’.

“Swimming lessons should never be seen as an extravagant extracurricular sport – every single parent should consider them compulsory.”

Life Saving Victoria also reminded people to be aware of the risks of swimming in rivers and lakes and to always swim within monitored areas when at the beach.

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