Source: The Australian, 20 January, 1998, p.7


Go jump,
it's safer
than a day
by the sea

By EBRU YAMAN

   AUSTRALIANS are probably 
safer dangling over an abyss 
than driving to the beach or 
entering the water this 
summer, according to latest 
death and injuries tolls.

   Figures reveal that we are 
more likely to be killed or 
seriously injured in a car 
accident, in the water or at 
home than taking part in 
more adventurous pursuits 
such as bungee jumping 
parachuting or abseiling.

   Although statistically you are 
more likely to be injured or 
killed as a result of the work 
you do than by any other 
cause, holidays and the 
commonplace activities they 
involve are an increasing 
hazard to the health and well- 
being of the Australian 
population.

   National drowning figures for 
1997 are not yet available, 
but in 1996, 342 Australians 
drowned. Already this holiday 
period, at least 38 people 
have drowned frustrating 
lifeguards and prompting 
calls for better water safety 
skills.

   The Australian road toll for 
1997 was 1764, with 73 
deaths and many more 
seriously hurt during the 
Christmas break.

   Leaving the car in the 
driveway and staying at home 
is not necessarily a safer 
option. While figures are not 
available on the types and 
number of injuries and deaths 
that have occurred in the 
home over this summer break 
the most recent figures from 
the Australian Bureau of 
Statistics National Health 
Survey show an alarmingly 
high rate of injuries occur 
either inside or immediately 
outside the home.

   The most recent survey, 
conducted in 1995, found that 
9.8 per cent of injuries 
occurred inside, the home and 
13.1 per cent occurred in the 
garden or outside.

   The latest ABS figures on 
causes of death in Australia 
show that of the 7554 deaths 
by causes other than illness 
in 1996 4696 were caused by 
accidents.

   Motor vehicle traffic accidents 
accounted for 1942 deaths, 
accidental drowning for 247 
deaths and accidental falls for 
1102 deaths. Most at risk are

   males aged between 15 and 24, 
accounting for 22 per cent of all 
traffic accident deaths.

   National Safety Council chief 
executive officer Jim Whiting 
says that people often do not 
realise that even the most 
pedestrian of activities have 
risks that must be assessed. 

   "Safety does not mean zero
risk, it means taking only the 
necessary risks and only after  
have been fully assessed,"

   "People get zero risk and zero 
accidents mixed up. There is 
always a risk but there need 
not always be an accident."

   Mr Whiting said that people 
were often not prepared to
admit that unremarkable 
activities like swimming or 
bushwalking were risky.

   "Taking risks isn't bad, life is 
about taking risks and we do it 
every day, for the benefits 
involved," he said.


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