Stay Safe in the Water this Summer - Drowning and marine stings

In a short time this summer we have seen the drowning toll rise quickly over the nation. Not only are drownings up but also a number of marine stings since Christmas.

At Cardiac Safe we want you to be prepared and understand why you need to employ several strategies to prevent drowning. Many Australians are unsure of how to manage marine stings believing old information or misinformation, we hope to make this simple for you and dispel those myths once and for all.

Be prepared with easy tips to ensure your family stays safe this summer!

Top Tips for Drowning Prevention

  1. Combine Strategies – don’t rely on one because they can fail.
    The key strategies are to supervise and enter the water with children regardless of ability. Wear a lifejacket, teach water safety skills and learn rescue and resuscitation skills
  2. Understand the risks and talk about water safety – its not just swimming ability, its the environment, activity and hazards that pose a risk.
  3. Supervise – childhood drownings occur when supervision lapses this was the overwhelming cause not a lack of swimming ability or lessons.
    For children 10 and under enter the water with your child, discourage breath holding and teach water safety not just swimming skills!
  4. Swim between the flags – can’t spot a rip, well a trained lifeguard can, the safest place is between the flags.
  5. Don’t mix alcohol and water – one of the leading contributors to adult drownings, simple don’t drink and swim.
  6. Learn rescue skills – while prevention is better than cure knowing CPR and having some basic water skills can assist, it can be as simple as knowing how to stay calm and float if you’re caught in a rip. While fitness is important you do not have to be a competitive swimmer to develop rescue skills however you do need practice. Remember rescue breaths are a vital component of resuscitation for the drowning victim due to the oxygen depravation that can occur.

But I can Swim – you’re still at risk.

Unfortunately something I hear frequently from parents as a lifeguard is ‘but my child can swim’ in response to any request to supervise their children closely. Drowning occurs so quickly for so many reasons, the supervision is still the most important factor of a number of other preventative strategies we need to employ to prevent drowning.

Most Australian children will be enrolled in a formal swimming program and yet drownings still occur. You might assume that the drownings are always due to lack of swimming ability, this is not always the case.  The Royal Life Saving Society’s national drowning report is an insightful look at the drownings incidents across Australia, the contributing factors are probably not what many think. Most drownings are adult males and a still a high number of children, often competent swimmers. Remember drownings occur for a variety of reasons, medical conditions, accidents and traumatic injuries, risky behaviours and environmental.

Marine Stings

Bites and stings seems to be one of the more misunderstood or confused elements of First Aid. One thing I’d encourage anybody to do if they’ve had no first aid training is to get an app. Simple up to date electronic First Aid Apps are available for all iPhone and Android devices. Make sure its an Australian version, from continent to continent species to species, the treatment of a bite or sting can differ greatly. Simply search ‘First Aid’ the results at the top of the search will normally be for Australian audiences. As with all first aid, just because you hear it, don’t believe it. Urinating on jellyfish stings is not a suitable treatment, vinegar is only used in ONE instance not for the majority.
Also one of the most versatile First Aid kits to have for any injury is the bite and sting kit available here.  This comes with an ice pack, pressure bandage, split, first aid guide and general first aid items, just add vinegar and you’re all set of water activity. For more information on tropical stings see our previous blog post here.

Stay Safe in the Water this Summer - Drowning and marine stings