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New Year Drownings: Five People Die On Aussie Beaches On January 1

The new year had a tragic start for beachgoers, with five drowning deaths across the country.

One person each died in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia on Tuesday, according to Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA).

READ MORE: Man Drowns At Sydney's Popular Clovelly Beach

READ MORE: Man, 45, Drowns In Victoria's Gippsland

In light of the alarming New Year's Day death toll, emergency services and surf life savers have renewed their calls for people to swim between the red and yellow flags, and not overestimate their swimming ability.

"As soon as we get a heatwave people head to the water and there is complacency and a lack of understanding about the environment, and also their limitations and their skill sets," Surf Life Saving Australia's Coastal Risk and Safety Manager, Shane Daw, told 10 daily.

A 34-year-old man drowned at Clovelly Beach on New Year's Day. Image: AAP

Daw said Surf Live Saving Australia is urging people to conduct a 'Stop, Look, and Plan' approach when swimming at a beach or other waterway.

A crucial part of this plan is to assess any potential risks before getting into the water.

"Stop for a minute and pause and look for any obvious dangers -- the rip currents, breaking waves, or rock ledges and have a plan if something does go wrong," Daw said.

This plan could include knowing who to call if someone gets into trouble. He also advised looking for a patrolled beach instead of swimming at an unpatrolled one.

A 45-year-old man drowned at in Victoria on New Year's Day. Image: Getty Images

There were 21 coastal drowning deaths between December 1, 2018 and January 1, 2019. That's eight deaths above the average of 13 for this time of year.

Of these 21 deaths, 20 of them were men and just one was female.

"Males are more risk takers sometimes and it is a bravado thing and also a perception of being bulletproof," Daw said.

"It's also activities like rock fishing and surfing that men are more likely to take part in. Men take more risks and put themselves in those kinds of positions,  where women are a little bit more cautious and reserved in those things," he said.

READ MORE: A Staggering 30 Drownings Have Been Recorded In 26 Days

READ MORE: Terrifying Near Drowning Caught On Camera

Alcohol is also a contributing factor in drowning deaths, especially around the holiday period, when people are participating in social activities they may not otherwise.

Daw said while some drowning deaths are tourists, the vast majority that SLSA deal with are Australian nationals.

People often overestimate their swimming ability. Image: Getty Images.

"There's a disconnect between people’s idea of their own skill level and recognising when they are actually in danger," Daw told 10 daily.

"There is this belief that they are well versed in swimming and recognising rips and that it won’t happen to them and that it will happen to someone else."

Drowning Deaths Well Above Australian Average

Since December 1, there have been 21 coastal drowning deaths across Australia, which is eight deaths above the average for this time of year.

These include:

  • A 34-year-old man at Sydney's Clovelly Beach on January 1.
  • A man in his 40s at Queensland's Stradbroke Island on January 1.
  • A 45-year-old man at a beach in Gippsland, Victoria on January 1.
  • In Tasmania, a 66-year-man at Hawley Beach on January 1
  • A 33-year-old woman at Forge Creek, Victoria on December 29.
  • A man on the Sunshine Coast on December 29.
  • A 27-year-old man at MacKenzie Falls in Victoria on December 26.
  • A diver off the coast of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula on December 25.
  • A 46-year-old South Korean national while snorkelling at Lake Conjola on the NSW South Coast on December 25.
  • A 20-year-old man and his father in his 40s at Phillip Island in Victoria on Christmas Eve.
  • A 60-year-old Swiss national at Moonee Beach, Coffs Harbour in NSW on December 21.
  • Three men aged 45, 35 and 28, also at Moonee Beach, on December 17.

Featured Image: Getty Images. 

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au