Drowning Tragedy: How To Save A Life Without Losing Your Own

In 2022, the national drowning report by Royal Life Saving Australia recorded 339 lives lost to drowning and a further 686 who experienced non-fatal drowning incidents.  

The particularly heartbreaking type of drowning, where one jumps in to rescue others, but is the one who drowns, is on the rise. On average these incidents occur five times a year but, in this month alone, there have been four.

Just last Sunday, at an unpatrolled beach near Cronulla in NSW, a father of six, Talitiga Taupau jumped in to save two other men but died in the process. In Narooma on the South Coast, an off-duty police officer saved his son who was caught in a rip and then drowned. A few days later on the Mid North Coast, a man died trying to save his daughter and then a third happened at Lennox Head when an Irish father died successfully rescuing his daughter.

“A flotation device is really important. So that might be a life jacket, a pool noodle, a boogie board, a surfboard, but it can also be those non-traditional things, a ball, an esky, a soft drink bottle that’s been emptied out, something that can hold a bit of air.”

Dr Amy Peden, Research Fellow, School of Population Health UNSW

To explain why this happens and how to avoid it, we’re speaking with Dr Amy Peden, a Research Fellow at UNSW, who is a leader in drowning prevention research.