Three times more young men at risk of drowning

RAPIDLY rising floodwaters, treacherous shorelines and young men who see themselves as 'bombproof' increase the risks of drownings on the Coffs Coast, say two water rescue experts.

"There have been a number of drownings and some disturbing cases of neardrownings when people on rural properties were trying to cross water to get to stock or even to get home," said Jason Phillips, the regional manager for the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, who is based in Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour's most dangerous beaches stretch from the northern side of Korora Bay all the way to Moonee Beach, says Coffs Harbour City Council's lifeguard co-ordinator, Greg Hackfath.

The two men were commenting on local risk factors following the release of the 2005 National Drowning Report by the Royal Life Saving Society Australia.

The report showed the biggest reduction in toddler drowning rates in 10 years and a continued reduction in the number of drownings.

It also showed men were three times more likely to drown than women and recorded an increase in drownings in lakes, dams and lagoons, as well as an increase in drowning deaths among 6-14 year olds and people over 65.

The report showed that 259 people drowned in Australian waters in the 12 months to June 30, 2005, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of them males.

Royal Life Saving CEO Rob Bradley said men and boys were more likely to indulge in risk-taking behaviour and this was combined with drinking alcohol, which could lower inhibitions and affect judgment. Mr Hackfath said some young men could not keep up with surfer mates.

The figures represent a drop in fatalities since 2004 and a decrease in the fiveyear average across all age groups, except for 6-14 year olds and the over 65 age group. The biggest drop was in the 0-5 age group, where the 28 drownings dropped sharply from the five-year average of 51.

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