While many Australians are looking forward to a day at the beach this long weekend, authorities are warning public holidays also bring a dramatic spike in deaths.
Drownings and other fatalities on the coast more than double on public holidays, and rise even further during long weekends, research from Surf Life Saving Australia shows.
Children and Australians born overseas are most at risk of drowning, with their chance of dying on the coast more than triple on long weekends and public holidays, the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health shows.
Of the 2665 people who died on Australia's coastline between 2004 and 2021, 185 died on public holidays and 176 died on long weekends.
One in six of those coastal drownings occurred in winter.
The study's co-author and general manager of coastal safety at SLSA Shane Daw says the findings will help lifeguards develop new measures to improve beach safety, particularly during peak busy periods.
"On public holidays and long weekends, people flock to the coast - and this increased visitation brings increased exposure to risk," he said on Wednesday.
"This research shows that children and overseas-born residents are most vulnerable to, and are probably less familiar with, the risks at Australian beaches.
"We need tailored water safety education and messaging to help protect these at-risk groups."
Long weekends and public holidays also saw an increased risk of death for coastal activities including boating, scuba diving and snorkelling, while public holidays saw an increase in deaths from people swimming, wading or trying to rescue others.
Australian Associated Press
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