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Conceptions of Drowning

Conceptions of Drowning

With summers heating up, more and more of us are cooling down in beautiful open water spots across the country.

While most dips are safe, the water can be dangerous. The Royal Life Saving Society and Surf Life Saving Australia data revealed 294 people died at waterways and beaches around the country in 2020/2021, compared to 245 in the previous 12 months.

Men continued to be significantly over-represented, making up about 80 per cent of drownings, and people aged 25 to 34 accounted for the largest number of deaths.

Conceptions on drowning

Drowning is not what you typically might see in the movies and people have certain expectations about what a drowning person is going to do, such as they’ll be able to call out for help and wave their arms.

In reality, drowning can be difficult to identify, is typically silent and happens much more quickly. When drowning begins, a person can no longer speak. Their mouth is sinking below the water, reappearing just long enough to gasp in a breath before going down again. They are vertical in the water, bobbing up and down and they won’t thrash or wave. Instead, they will have their hands extended partially or fully to their sides.

Children can look like they’re paddling or playing a game, and often are surrounded by people who are looking at them but don’t realise that the drowning is taking place.

This process is shockingly quick – about 20 seconds for young children and 60 seconds for adolescents. This means you only have a few moments to realise it’s happening.



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