Swimming Safety

Queensland has one of the highest rates of drowning.

Queenslanders are reminded to brush up on their water safety following a horror year of drownings on the state’s beaches and in swimming pools.

The Queensland Family and Child Commission found on average 10 children under the age of five and five children aged between five and seven drowned in Queensland each year.

Swimming pools were found to be the leading cause of drownings for children aged under five, accounting for 50%, followed by bathtubs 19%.

Psychologist Dr Justin Coulson said he’d experienced the dangers of swimming pools first-hand when his family suffered a near-fatal tragedy.

“My uncle and his two-year-old son, James, were in the pool area during a family function when tragedy nearly struck,” Dr Coulson said.

“Despite dozens of people being there, nobody heard James fall – it was only when my uncle turned around after tending to another child that he saw James was at the bottom of the pool.

“My uncle jumped in, pulled James out and laid him on his side where he started coughing and vomiting up water.”

Dr Coulson said his entire family were in disbelief at how quickly and silently James nearly drowned, despite 20-30 people being in the pool area.

“Words cannot underscore how important it is to teach your children how to swim and to always keep an eye on them,” he said.

“It’s simply lifesaving."

The warning extends to beachgoers after 21 people drowned on Queensland beaches in 2018-19 – the highest number of beach-related fatalities ever recorded.

Surf Life Saving Queensland Chief Executive Officer Dave Whimpey said of the 21 drownings, 12 were males aged between 51 and 73.

“Traditionally it was younger males who were most at risk, but over the past 12 months there’s been a strong shift towards an older demographic,” Mr Whimpey said.

“If you fall into that older age category book in for a medical check-up as a priority as we’ve seen far too many beachgoers over the years get into trouble after suffering a heart attack or medical episode in the water that could have been prevented.”

Queensland beaches 2018-19

  • 21 drowning deaths.
  • 3894 rescues.
  • 65,133 first-aid responses.

Queensland beach drownings

  • Sunshine Coast: 6.
  • Gold Coast: 5.
  • Cairns and surrounding islands: 4.
  • North Stradbroke Island: 2.
  • Lady Elliot Island: 2.
  • Agnes Water: 1.
  • Magnetic Island: 1.