Summer scorcher sparks water safety alert for swimmers

Record-breaking summer temperatures are expected to bring swarms of swimmers to Australian pools, beaches and waterways, prompting an urgent safety alert from lifesavers.

The days between Christmas and January 2 are the deadliest for drownings each year, typically representing about 25 per cent of fatal incidents.

Royal Life Saving chief executive officer Justin Scarr said alcohol was too often a factor in drownings and he urged men in particular to take care.

"Men need to remember that alcohol can affect choices and skills around the water - too often with tragic consequences," he said.

"Alcohol was present in more than a quarter of drowning deaths last summer so we're urging people to make the right call and leave the beers until after swimming, boating or fishing."

People at Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club in Sydney,
The days between Christmas and January 2 are the deadliest for drownings each year.

Last summer there were 90 fatal drownings, 39 of which were people aged 35 to 64 years old.

More than 50 per cent of deaths occurred on the coast, while 37 per cent were in inland waterways.

Mr Scarr also warned parents to ensure children were constantly supervised around water.

"Keep watch and keep children within arm's reach, designate an adult to act as lifeguard for parties or BBQs around a backyard swimming pool and make sure the gate is in good working order," he said.

"Rivers, lakes and dams can often appear calm and without danger, however strong currents, hidden debris and steep banks can catch swimmers or waders by surprise." 

Rivers are the leading location of drownings in the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. 

Last summer, NSW recorded 40 per cent of the national drowning toll with 36 deaths, while 22 people died in Victoria.

Four Australians have drowned since December 1 this year.

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