Rainbow Beach Lifeguards Lleam Rees and James Cahill keep an eye on a busy day at Rainbow Beach.
Rainbow Beach Lifeguards Lleam Rees and James Cahill keep an eye on a busy day at Rainbow Beach. Craig Warhurst

Drownings alert as swim time nears

DROWNINGS at Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island were among 314 nationwide, published in this week’s Royal Surf Lifesaving Club National Drowning Report.

Eidsvold, Burnett River and Bargara also feature on the list of water tragedies for the past year, which include 85 deaths in Queensland.

Lifesavers have this week urged seaside residents to be careful around beaches and waterways during the holidays in the wake of the five per cent nationwide increase on last year.

It is the second year in a row the number of drownings in Australia has increased, after a long-term decline in the numbers throughout the early part of the decade.

Lifeguards say swimmers in Hervey Bay should enjoy themselves but be careful.

They should always stay between the flags, talk to the lifeguard on duty and make sure children are accompanied by an adult who is a confident swimmer.

Even at beaches which often appear safe, swimmers could be caught out by sudden big waves or hidden obstacles, they said.

Royal Life Saving Queensland executive director Michael Darben said the six drownings had contributed to the state’s total, the second-highest in Australia after New South Wales.

He said Queenslanders should take particular care around creeks and rivers, after the statistics revealed more than a quarter of state drownings occurred in those locations.

“We often think of the beaches and the oceans being the most dangerous areas, where rivers and creeks have been particularly dangerous over the past 12 months,” he said.

Royal Life Saving chief executive officer Rob Bradley said drownings were a particularly significant issue for regional Australians, with more than 50 per cent of the deaths occurring outside major cities.

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