Sydney Councils Launch New Water Safety Campaign After Record Number of Drownings

  • All Ages

If you live near a beach and are a parent, we're willing to bet that water safety is one of your top priorities and main concerns when taking your kids to the beach. Ocean swimming is such an integral (and amazing!) part of the Australian lifestyle and culture—but of course, it comes with its dangers.

In response to the country's record number of drownings in 2022, two of Sydney’s eastern suburbs councils have joined forces in order to pilot a brand-new water safety campaign. The message, which Randwick and Waverley Councils are working hard to convey every which way, is simple: float to survive.

Randwick City and Waverley Councils Promote Float to Survive Campaign.

The Float to Survive campaign launched at the start of December in partnership with the UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, and promotes floating as the best chance of survival for swimmers who find themselves in trouble in the water.

The push for a change in messaging comes about after Australia recorded its highest drowning rates in the last 10 years with 339 deaths—with many of these drownings occurring at unpatrolled beaches, or out of hours, and in rivers and lakes.

The Key Message

Dylan Parker, Mayor of Randwick, says “Our Float to Survive message is that if you can master the skill of floating, even if you are not a good swimmer, you are more likely to survive and be rescued.”

Professor Rob Brander from the UNSW Beach Safety Research Group contends that “the Float to Survive message has the potential to help those who find themselves in trouble in the water at unpatrolled locations or outside of patrol hours and locations.”

The message acknowledges the fact that even people who can confidently swim often panic when they get into trouble in the water, which means they try to swim against the current and quickly tire themselves out. Randwick Council Beach Lifeguard Supervisor, Paul Moffat, says that “If you can relax and float, you’ll conserve energy and have a better chance of drifting out of a rip or being rescued.”

Five Steps to Floating

  • Keep calm and control your breathing
  • Lean back
  • Extend your arms and legs
  • Gently rotate arms and legs in a circular motion
  • Signal for help with your hand if you can

The Float to Survive message will be promoted over the 2023 summer period, alongside and complementing Surf Life Saving NSW’s traditional beach safety message to always swim between the flags. 

Stay safe, everyone!

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