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