One person a day has died in Australian waterways on average this summer, says the Royal Life Saving Society.
In the period between December 1 and January 18, 59 people lost their lives in Australian waters, an increase of 16 per cent on the same period last year.
Inland waterways such as rivers and lakes claimed more than a third of all lives, while three in 10 drownings occurred at the beach.
Another one in five people died in ocean and harbour locations.
‘They’re all quite varied, we’ve got swimming deaths, boating where people just weren’t wearing life jackets or have gone out in bad conditions,’ said national research manager Amy Peden.
Nearly half of all victims were aged between 25 and 54, while five deaths occurred in children aged five and under.
The report found men are putting themselves at greater risk of drowning, making up four in five deaths.
Ms Peden said this reflected longer-term trends showing men drown at four times the rate of women.
‘We’re continuing to see men take those risks when they’re in and around the water,’ she said.
‘We do know there are a lot of deaths due to alcohol every year, particularly around inland waterways.’
Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Starr pleaded with Australians to be more careful over the Australia Day holiday period.
‘Take care, avoid unnecessary risks,’ he said.
‘Don’t go swimming if you’ve been drinking, wear life jackets when boating or rock fishing and look after each other when you’re around the water.’
Mr Starr implored parents to supervise their children at all times.
‘Children drown quickly and silently.’