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The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has urged locals and holiday makers to continue to take extra care around water as the National Summer Drowning Toll reaches 53, including five lives lost near Paynesville and at Cape Schanck and Phillip Island.

The toll has risen by 15 deaths compared to the same period last summer. Forty-six males and seven females have died. Thirteen of the deaths have occurred in Victoria.

Mr Chester said statistics from the Royal Life Saving Australia, which showed 87 percent of the deaths occurred in inland or coastal waters, were a sombre reminder of the dangers.

“Gippsland is home to many of Australia’s best beaches, lakes, rivers and waterways,” Mr Chester said. “For that reason, our region is a popular holiday destination where many people are outside enjoying our rivers, lakes, dams, beaches and oceans during the warmer months.

“Everyone needs to treat the water with respect and always take care.

“Anyone who goes to the beach, is near our waterways or having fun at a swimming pool should know how to stay safe and how to help others if they get into trouble.”

Mr Chester has been involved with Surf Life Saving Lakes Entrance for many years and is currently a water safety officer.

“Drowning deaths occur throughout the year, but peak as the weather warms up. We all need to stay vigilant as we head out to enjoy the water,” Mr Chester said.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society’s National Drowning Report 2018, 72 percent of all people who drowned in Australia were male. Sixty percent of lives were lost in our rivers, creeks, streams, oceans, harbours and at our beaches.

To help prevent drowning, the Royal Life Saving Society recommends you:

• don’t swim alone
• wear a lifejacket when using watercraft
• supervise children
• learn CPR, first aid and lifesaving skills, and
• avoid alcohol around water.

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