Comparing rivers to lakes: implications for drowning prevention

Peden, Amy E., Willcox‐Pidgeon, Stacey M., Scarr, Justin P., and Franklin, Richard C. (2020) Comparing rivers to lakes: implications for drowning prevention. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 28 (6). pp. 568-578.

[img] PDF (Accepted Publisher Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Objective: To contrast unintentional fatal drowning in rivers with lakes to determine appropriateness for application of existing river drowning prevention strategies.

Design: A total population retrospective cross‐sectional analysis using coronial data.

Setting: Australia, 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2018.

Participants: Children and adults (n = 342) who died from unintentional drowning in a river or lake.

Main outcome measures: Incidence, crude fatality rates, relative risk (95% confidence interval) and chi‐square tests of independence for risk factors for unintentional fatal drowning. Subset analysis of land management for lake drowning locations.

Results: Four‐fifths (82%) occurred in rivers. Lake drowning was more likely among 0‐ to 17‐year‐olds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and when swimming or using watercraft. River drowning most commonly occurred following a fall into water and with alcohol involvement. Drowning risk in very remote areas was elevated for both lakes (relative risk = 18.34; 95% confidence interval: 1.61‐209.44) and rivers (relative risk = 15.89; 95% confidence interval: 5.56‐45.37) compared to major cities. Those responsible for land and water management at lakes were primarily local government (59%), water authorities (32%) and parks and wildlife authorities (7%).

Conclusions: In contrast to a focus on adults and alcohol in existing river drowning prevention strategies, lake interventions must target children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recreational lake users. Fatal drowning rates are high for remote rivers and lakes, necessitating focused effort. There are opportunities to embed drowning prevention strategies within land and water management plans. Lake drowning prevention requires broader engagement with land and water managers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Item ID: 65137
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1584
Keywords: epidemiology, health promotion, policy, public health, rural population health
Copyright Information: © 2020 National Rural Health Alliance Ltd.
Funders: Royal Life Saving Society - Australia
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2020 23:32
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420210 Social epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 2
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page