Page 1

COA S TAL SAFE T Y BRIE F BE ACHE S S U R F L I FE S AV I N G AU S T R A L I A


BEACHES IN AUSTR ALIA

There are over 12,000 beaches around the Australian coast and at least 200 million visitations to them each year.4 The beaches of Australia are unique and a significant drawcard for local and international visitors, offering a natural environment for diverse recreation and activities. Unfortunately there are also a number of factors that contribute to the growing numbers of fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents. Beach environments comprise almost half (47%) of all fatal coastal drowning deaths from 2004-171. In addition, non-fatal drowning at beaches make up almost one-third (31%) of the toll in natural waters between 2002-152. Many Australians who participate in coastal and beach activities don’t perceive these environments as being a risk towards their well-being; 47% believe that the beach is not very or not at all hazardous, and only 43% usually go swimming at a patrolled beach during patrol hours3. Despite swimming and wading accounting for the highest number of coastal drowning deaths in Australia1, and a significant amount of non-fatal incidents2, there is an alarming disparity between hazard perception and fact. Surf Life Saving continues to research and report on national drowning trends, which have a devastating impact on families, communities, emergency services and health systems. This valuable research helps to determine the services and interventions that are needed most on our beaches.

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

2

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


BEACH SNAPSHOT 2 0 0 4 -17

FATAL DROWNING ANALYSIS On average there are 47 drowning deaths at beaches each year. FATALITIES

AVERAGE FATALITY RATE

2004-17

PER 100,000 POPULATION

607 0.21 16% 84%

9 115

79 52

249

FEMALE

89 14

MALE

BEACH PARTICIPATION3

USUAL SWIMMING LOCATION

• There are approximately 200 million beach visitations each year in Australia

6%

• 81% beachgoers spend at least 2 hours or more at the coast on a typical day

43%

22%

• 34% go swimming / wading at the coast at least once a month

3%

Patrolled beach during patrol hours only

• The most important criteria when choosing a beach to visit include safety (61%), weather conditions (59%) and sea/surf conditions (54%)

43%

Patrolled beach during patrol hours only Patrolled beach, but not always during patrolled hours Unpatrolled beach Coastal Pool

26%

Can't say

BEACH DROWNING DEATHS TREND

Rate per 100,000 pop. Total drowning deaths 0.25 0.25

0.27 0.26

0.21

0.22 0.19

2007-08

32

49

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

62

30

2013-14

2006-07

44

2012-13

2005-06

41

2011-12

39

2010-11

55

2009-10

43

0.13

2008-09

42

2004-05

0.14

3

59

61

50

2016-17

0.18

0.20

2015-16

0.21

2014-15

0.21

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


SECTION ONE P A R T I C I P AT I O N

2014-2017

USUAL SWIMMING LOCATION AT THE COAST 6%

200 million

3%

43% Swim at a

22%

beach visitations each year4

43%

patrolled beach during patrol hours

Patrolled beach during patrol hours only Patrolled beach, but not always during patrolled hours Unpatrolled beach Coastal Pool

26%

Can't say

2014-2017

ABILITY TO SWIM 50M IN THE OCEAN WITHOUT STOPPING

61%

BEACHGOERS BELIEVE SAFETY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA WHEN CHOOSING A BEACH

61%

39%

61%

61%

39%

Cannot swim 50m without stopping

Yes No / Can’t say

2014-2017

% OF PARTICIPANTS WHO PARTICIPATE FREQUENTLY IN COASTAL ACTIVITIES (AT LEAST ONCE PER MONTH) 51% 43%

41% 35%

34%

32% 26%

23% 19%

Surfing

Watercraft

Rock Fishing

Land-based Fishing

Swimming/ Wading

Scuba Diving

Boating

PWC

Snorkelling

Reference: National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-17 (average)

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

4

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


P A R T I C I P AT I O N

2015-2017

TIME SPENT AT THE COAST PER VISIT

25% 22%

17%

16% 12%

4%

3% 1%

5 hours or more

4 hours

3 hours

2 hours

1 hour

30 mins

15 mins or less

Can't say

2014-2017

IMPORTANT CRITERIA WHEN CHOOSING A SWIMMING OR WADING LOCATION AT THE COAST 61%

59% 54% 45% 40% 36% 28% 25% 20%

My trainer/ exercise group is there

2%

1% Can't say

2%

Other

3% My club is there

9%

Is located in a national park or is pristine

9%

Has a rock pool

Has a netted or enclosed swimming area

11%

Is accessible by public transport

My friends go there

Is secluded/ uncrowded

Has amenities such as showers or cafes etc.

Is close to home

Is patrolled by a lifeguard or a lifesaving service

Is easy to park/ has car park

Sea conditions/ surf conditions

Weather conditions

Is safe

13%

Reference: National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-17 (average) & 2015-17 (average)

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

5

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


HAZARD PERCEPTION

2014-2017 HAZARD PERCEPTION OF THE BEACH 3% 3% 12%

8%

39%

35%

39%

SOMEWHAT HAZARDOUS

47%

Extremely hazardous Very hazardous Somewhat hazardous Not very hazardous Not at all hazardous Can't say

BELIEVE THE COAST IS NOT VERY OR NOT AT ALL HAZARDOUS

2015-2017 AVERAGE RISK PERCEPTION COMPARED TO TOTAL COASTAL DEATHS FOR THE SAME COASTAL ACTIVITIES AND HAZARDS

Coastal Activities

Coastal Hazards

% AUSTRALIANS WHO BELIEVE COASTAL ACTIVITIES AND HAZARDS ARE EXTREMELY OR VERY HAZARDOUS

TOTAL DEATHS BETWEEN 2014-17 AS A RESULT OF COASTAL ACTIVITIES OR HAZARDS

7%

Swimming

11%

126

Boating

13%

89

Snorkelling

14%

32

Watercraft

18%

35

Surfing

24%

15

Scuba Diving

26%

27

Waves

35% 50%

51 46

Rock Fishing

54%

0

Marine Stinger Creatures

56%

Crocodiles

58% 63%

4

Land-based Fishing

2

Sharks

11

Tropical Marine Stinger Creatures

74%

Rip Currents

49

References: National Coastal Safety Survey 2014-17 (average) & 2015-17 (average); SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2017

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

6

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


SECTION TWO F ATA L B E A C H D R O W N I N G 2 0 0 4 -17 WHO

REGION OF BIRTH

84%

29%

36%

MALE

1% 2% 3%

AUSTRALIA

14%

WHERE

36% Australia Asia Europe Americas Oceania Africa Unknown

16%

REGION OF RESIDENCE

1%

13%

2%

19%

13%

85%

9% 41%

AUSTRALIA

85%

Australia International Unknown

15% 2% ACTIVITY

SWIMMING/ WADING

WATERCRAFT

ATTEMPTING A RESCUE

SNORKELLING

Reference: National Coastal Safety Report 2017

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

7

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -17

WHERE

WHEN

WHY

37%

57% LIVED MORE THAN 10KM FROM DROWNING LOCATION

RIP CURRENTS

12-6 PM

NSW

41%

17% SATURDAY - SUNDAY

AFFECTED BY ALCOHOL OR DRUGS

46% MORE THAN 1KM FROM A LIFESAVING SERVICE

24% DECEMBER - FEBRUARY

MEDICAL ISSUE OR INJURY

Reference: SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2017

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

8

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -17

AGE 63 59

2004-2017

53

BEACH DROWNING DEATHS BY AGE (n=607)

52 48

43

41

43

39 34

29

26 22

11

21

12 8

2

1

0-4

5-9

10-14 15-19

20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75-79 80-84

TIME 63 53

2004-2017

BEACH DROWNING DEATHS BY TIME (n=607)

85+ unknown

67

49

47

41 32 26 16

4

5

9 - 10pm

10 - 11pm

7 - 8pm

6 - 7pm

5 - 6pm

4 - 5pm

3 - 4pm

2 - 3pm

1 - 2pm

12 - 1pm

11 - 12pm

10 - 11am

8 - 9am

9 - 10am

7 - 8am

MONTH

8 - 9pm

8

6 - 7am

1 5 - 6am

1

4 - 5am

1 - 2am

17

13

6 2

3 - 4am

6

2 - 3am

4 12 - 1am

14

24

1 11 - 12am

23

122

2004-2017

BEACH DROWNING DEATHS BY MONTH (n=607)

85

83 66 54

52

42 28

27

23 13

July

August

12

September

October

November December

January

February

March

April

May

June

Reference: National Coastal Safety Report 2017

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

9

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


SECTION THREE N O N - F ATA L B E A C H D R O W N I N G 2 0 0 2 -15

NON-FATAL BEACH DROWNING2 The focus of drowning prevention research has long been on fatal drowning. Through the collection and analysis of fatal coastal drowning incidents Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has been able to determine patterns, causation and intervention priorities for the past 13 years. However, SLSA acknowledges that fatal drowning incidents are only part of the total drowning toll. Nonfatal drowning incidents are more difficult to quantify but represent a significant part of the total impact of drowning. In 2017, a joint study between SLSA and Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) investigated the impact of non-fatal drowning in Australia across a 13year period (2002-15). In that time period 6,158 cases of non-fatal drowning were recorded across all aquatic environments (including swimming pools, bath tubs and natural waters), an average of 474 a year. That equates to a ratio of almost three non-fatal drowning deaths to every fatal drowning across all aquatic environments. The ratio of fatal to non-fatal incidents is not equal between aquatic environments. Swimming pools and

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

bath tubs record a much higher fatal to non-fatal ratio than natural waters (4.34, 3.76 and 0.94 respectively). In this report we further analyse the data to look at beach environments specifically. Between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2015 a total of 504 non-fatal drowning incidents were recorded in beach environments. That represents an average of 38.8 non-fatal beach drowning per year. The disparity between male and female non-fatal statistics is similar to those of fatal; 388 (77%) were male and 116 (23%) were female. However, the ratio of females to males is increasing over time, with females representing 17% of non-fatal drowning incidents in 2002-03 and 200304, and 33% in 2014-15. The age brackets between 18 and 44 record the highest amount of non-fatal beach drowning (46% total). Additionally, a quarter (25%) were children under 18 years old. In most adult age brackets (18+) the female ratio fluctuates around 20% of the total non-fatal beach drowning (min. 10%, max. 33%, average 21%). In the younger age groups (0-17) females represent a significantly higher percentage (min. 26%, max. 45%, average 36%). Most age brackets are relatively stable over time, however nonfatal beach drowning in young children (0-4 years) seems to be slightly decreasing.

10

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


BEACH SNAPSHOT

NON-FATAL DROWNING ANALYSIS 2002-15 NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS BETWEEN 2002-15

77% 23% MALE

AVERAGE

38.8

NON-FATAL DROWNING PER YEAR

FEMALE

COMPARISON OF FATAL AND NON-FATAL DROWNING 2004-15 RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL

MALE RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL

1:1.08 NON-FATAL DROWNING

FATAL DROWNING

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

FEMALE RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL

11

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 2 -15

YEAR 2002-2015

NON-FATAL BEACH DROWNING BY YEAR AND GENDER (n=504) Female Male

6 8

13

8

9

15

7

1

46 38

38

39

2003-04

2005-06

2006-07

8

12 10

24

2004-05

9

34

26

2002-03

10

2007-08

2008-09

26

23

31

28 20

15 2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

MALES

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE

AGE 2002-2015

NON-FATAL BEACH DROWNING BY AGE AND GENDER (n=504) Female Male

9 12 16 8 20 11 24 0-4

8

56

12

77

66

48

8 14 5–9

19

23

10–14

15-17

34

18-24

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

25-34

35-44

12

45-54

55-64

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES

9 18

3 9

65-74

75+


SECTION FOUR C O M PA R I N G B E AC H D R O W N I N G 2 0 0 4 -15 COMPARING FATAL AND NON-FATAL BEACH DROWNING To calculate ratios of fatal to non-fatal drowning incidents, the total number of fatal beach drowning incidents were revised to match the much narrower definition of drowning used by the non-fatal data. Therefore, the number of fatal beach drowning incidents in this section is lower than the one reported in the previous sections of the brief.

There is a marked difference between male and female ratios, 0.91 and 1.61 respectively. This suggests that although females are notoriously under-represented in fatal drowning statistics, the difference is less pronounced in non-fatal drowning numbers. The fatal to non-fatal ratio of females seems to be increasing over the years, fluctuating between 0.50 and 3.00, and averaging 1.63. The increasing ratio is driven by an increase of non-fatal beach drowning incidents. The fatal to non-fatal ratio of males has remained fairly stable over the years.

The average ratio of fatal to non-fatal drowning from 2004 to 2015 is 1.08. This indicates that for every fatal drowning on a beach, there are 1.08 non-fatal beach drowning. The rate is highly variable across age groups – young children (0-4) show the highest ratio (38.00) indicating that for every fatal beach drowning there are 38 non-fatal ones. On the other end of the spectrum, the oldest age group (75+) represents the lowest ratio (0.38) indicating that for every three fatal beach drowning deaths one non-fatal drowning occurs.

Females and males both show a decreasing fatal to non-fatal ratio with increasing age.

YEAR 2004-2015

BEACH DROWNING BY YEAR (n=816) Non-fatal

Fatal

97 92

88 82

52 62

71

67

25

62

52

38

57

43

33

83

35

46 55

31

25

32 58

45 29

2004-05

28

2005-06

2006-07

46

44

36

2007-08

32

32

31

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

13

23

2011-12

2012-13

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES

2013-14

2014-15


C A U S A L A N A LY S I S 2 0 0 4 -15

AGE 2004-2015

BEACH DROWNING BY AGE (n=816) Male

Female Non-fatal Fatal

159

64 115

114 101

62

66

44

97

38 60

95

39

38

29

32

18

26

21

1

5–9

53

48

57

10–14

6

15–17

18–24

25–34

35–44

35 45–54

36

10

59

13

11 0–4

25

34

55–64

65–74

26 75+

GENDER 2004-2015

BEACH DROWNING BY GENDER (n=816)

0-4 YEAR OLD RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL

654 Non-fatal Fatal

312

1:38 75+ YEAR OLD RATIO FATAL : NON-FATAL

342

162

1:0.38

100 62 Male

Female

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

14

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


CONCLUSION

most severe half). The marked difference in ratios of males (0.91) and females (1.61) indicates that females are more often involved in non-fatal drowning incidents than they are in fatal incidents, while for males the opposite is true. Hence, including non-fatal drowning data as part of the total drowning toll is particularly important for assessing the impact of drowning on females.

With approximately 200 million beach visitations annually, Australian beaches are undeniably popular. While safety is a consideration for most people when picking a beach to recreate at, over half (57%) will consider a coastal swimming location outside patrolled locations or patrol hours. Swimming on the coast is not perceived to be a dangerous activity, however it is the activity that accounts for most coastal drowning deaths. Part of the problem is that almost two-thirds of Australians (61%) report that they cannot swim 50m in the ocean without stopping.

The fatal to non-fatal ratio decreases with increasing age, indicating that when older individuals get into trouble it is more likely to end in a fatality compared to younger people. While the male ratio is stable over the study period, the female ratio seems to be increasing over time. This is driven by the increase in female non-fatal incidents.

On average, there are 47 drowning deaths on beaches annually. Most of these were adult Australian residents. Almost two-thirds (60%) happened while swimming, usually in the afternoon. Rips and medical events played a role in 37% and 24% of drowning deaths respectively. SLSA recognises that fatal drowning alone does not reflect the total burden of drowning. Non-fatal drowning incidents are harder to quantify but represent a significant part of the total impact of drowning. This is the first report that has attempted to quantify the total drowning toll on Australian beaches. Between 2002 and 2015 504 non-fatal drowning incidents were recorded, averaging 39 incidents annually. Males represent 77% of these on average but the ratio of females to males is increasing over time, with females representing 17% of non-fatal drowning incidents in 2002-03 and 2003-04, and 33% in 2014-15. The non-fatal data was sourced from hospitalisation incidents, automatically filtering out the less severe cases of non-fatal drowning. It was also filtered by hospital coding, restricting the dataset to cases within a much narrower definition of drowning than SLSA uses. A direct comparison of the fatal and non-fatal datasets required revising the fatal dataset to the narrower definition of the non-fatal data.

By combining the fatal and non-fatal datasets we have moved toward understanding the total drowning toll in Australian beaches. It is worth noting that, although this analysis allows us to quantify the scale and trends in non-fatal drowning incidents, it does not include the severity nor consider the social impact of these events. These are considerations for further research into the total drowning toll.

The fatal to non-fatal rate of 1.08 indicates that fatal drowning incidents account for half of the total drowning toll (albeit the

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

15

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES


REFERENCES

Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Report 2017 The Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Report (NCSR) is published annually and contains information on Australian community behaviours and attitudes to the coast; SLS capability and membership capacity; rescues and emergency response; and coastal drowning deaths. The 2017 NCSR represents the statistics from the period of 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. Trend analyses from 2004-17 are also included. All care is taken to ensure the statistical information included within this report is correct. However, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations and as SLS state/territory entities update their operational information, this data may be amended. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys The annual Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Surveys collect Information about community swimming ability, behaviours and attitudes to coastal safety. The survey is conducted by Newspoll Market Research and Omnipoll and is run online over a four-day period each April among a national sample of approximately 1,400 respondents aged 16 to 69. The study is carried out in compliance with ISO 20252 - Market, Social and Opinion Research. To reflect the population distribution, results were post-weighted (on age, gender, geographic strata and education) and projected to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

diagnosis was any code in ICD-10-AM Chapter XIX Injury, Poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (S00-T98) and the first reported external cause of morbidity was Drowning and Submersion following fall into natural water (W70) were included. A direct comparison of fatal to non-fatal datasets required revising the fatal dataset to the narrower definition of the non-fatal data. The SLSA coastal drowning database includes all unintentional drowning deaths regardless of the assigned first reported external cause of morbidity. For the sake of comparison this database was reduced to match the non-fatal data requirements. It should be noted that SLSA believes that a broader definition of drowning, as used in section 2 of this brief, more accurately captures the true scale of drowning. SLSA believes that the statistics presented in section 3 and 4 significantly understate the true scale of both fatal and non-fatal drowning. References Surf Life Saving Australia (2017). National Coastal Safety Report. SLSA: Sydney. Surf Life Saving Australia National Coastal Safety Survey (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017). Newspoll Online Omnibus in 2014 and 2015, and an Omnipoll online panel in 2016 and 2017.

This publication is copyright. Except as expressly provided in the Copyright Act 1968 and the Copyright Amendment Act 2006, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval systems or transmitted by any means (incl. electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without prior permission from Surf Life Saving Australia. For enquiries concerning reproduction, contact SLSA on: phone 02 9215 8000; email: info@slsa.asn.au Every attempt has been made to trace and acknowledge copyright, but in some cases this may not have been possible. Surf Life Saving Australia apologises for any accidental infringements and would welcome any information to redress the situation. Acknowledgements Surf Life Saving Australia wishes to thank Frederic Anne (Omnipoll), Amy Peden (RLSSA), Alison Mahony (RLSSA) and Anika Martin (Graphic Design) for their contribution to this report.

Page References 1.

SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2017

2.

Mahony, A., Barnsley, P., Peden, A.E., Scarr, J. (2017) A thirteen year national study of nonfatal drowning in Australia: Data challenges, hidden impacts and social costs. Royal Life Saving Society - Australia. Sydney.

3.

SLSA National Coastal Safety Survey 2014–17 (average)

4.

SLSA Calculated Statistics 2018

Non-Fatal Drowning Data 2017 The non-fatal drowning data used in this report were made available by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The authors are responsible for the use made of the data in this report. Hospital separation where the principal

© 2018 Surf Life Saving Australia

Data correct at 31 March 2018. Changes may occur at a later date.

SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTR ALIA

16

Suggested Citation Ryan, A., Rijksen, E., Stone, K., Daw, S. (2018) Coastal Safety Brief: Beaches. Surf Life Saving Australia: Sydney.

COASTAL SAFET Y BRIEF – BEACHES

Coastal Safety Brief - Beaches  
Coastal Safety Brief - Beaches  
Advertisement