MALES living in the north west of Victoria are eight times more likely to drown than females, the latest data from Life Saving Victoria shows.
From 2009-10 to 2018-19, 12 deaths were recorded in the north west of the state, and six residents living in the area drowned in Victoria.
The likelihood of one or more drowning deaths occurring in the region in any given year rose to 70%.
As well as the drowning deaths, there were 32 north west region residents hospitalised due to non-fatal drowning and 40 Emergency Department presentations of residents for non-fatal drowning.
Water safety week commenced on November 30 and runs through to December 6.
The Victorian Drowning Report was released as part of Water Safety Week and shows state-wide there were 34 drowning deaths in Victoria and 100 non-fatal drowning incidents last financial year.
LSV's Principal Research Associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said while this was a 23 per cent decrease on the drowning rate compared to the 10-year average, there were some worrying trends that highlighted the importance of not being complacent about water safety.
"Every drowning death is one too many, and, unfortunately, this year's statistics paint a picture that suggests people aren't adequately preparing themselves for a day out on or around the water or may be underestimating the risks," Dr Matthews said.
"Males continue to be overrepresented in the drowning statistics and are four times more likely to drown than females, with men aged 25-44 years making up more than a quarter of all drowning deaths for the 2019-20 year.
"Another age group showing an increase in drownings is the 15-24 year age group, which has seen a 22 per cent increase in the drowning rate on the 10-year average. We know drinking alcohol around water remains a high-risk activity for all age groups that should be avoided."
The Play it Safe by the Water group of agencies has worked diligently to ensure all Victorians got the message about the need to be extra safe by the water this summer.
"If you're planning to visit a beach, inland waterway or pool this summer, prepare to stay safe around the water, as well as staying COVIDSafe," Dr Matthews said.
"We are facing a summer where most Victorians have had limited or no exposure to waterways and aquatic recreation in almost a year, so it's crucial to be prepared before a day out on or around the water.
"Before you head to the beach, check the beachsafe.org.au website to find a patrolled beach, be aware of your abilities - especially if you have had a lengthy period away from the water or a trying a new aquatic activity - and be well prepared for the weather and the conditions.
"Once you're there, read the safety signs, swim between the red and yellow flags and always supervise young children near water.
"We also encourage Victorians to prepare by taking advantage of LSV's new Virtual Reality resources, launched today, that invite viewers to explore at-risk aquatic environments while learning about key water safety messages designed to keep them safe."
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