There is a significant lack of awareness among the general public about the hazards posed by the beach.
Surf Life Saving Australiaâ€™s 2014 National Coastal Safety Survey, conducted by Newspoll in April 2014, revealed:
- The coast and beach are not perceived as hazardous by the general populationâ€”48% view the coast as not very or not at all hazardous, and a further 38% of people believe it is only somewhat hazardous.
- The swimming ability of the general public in the ocean is lowâ€”only 35% of people can swim 50m in the ocean without stopping.
- People overestimate their ability to identify hazards such as rip currentsâ€”only 36% of people correctly identified a rip current.
- Participants in coastal activities do not follow key safety proceduresâ€”only 43% of people usually swim between the flags; 28% usually swim at patrolled beaches out of patrol hours; 21% usually swim at unpatrolled locations; only 16% of fishers and 46% of boaters always wear a lifejacket.
This lack of respect for the water, peopleâ€™s poor swimming ability in the ocean and their low level of adherence to safety procedures form a dangerous combination that has contributed to coastal drowning deaths. Surf Life Saving Australia has identified the need for a public awareness campaign to influence perception of coastal hazards. It is the first step on the journey to improving safety practices. The aim is to increase peopleâ€™s understanding of and respect for the water, to improve resilience to coastal hazards and ultimately reduce drowning deaths among beachgoers and coastal users.
Click on the image below to access the full Surf Life Saving Australiaâ€™s 2014 National Coastal Safety report
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