Life Savers: 1 in 3 water deaths occur in our rivers

IT HAS been less than two months since 90-year-old Maryborough man George Armstrong drowned in the Mary River near Brother's Island at Beaver Rock.

While operating a row boat with his friend, Mr Armstrong fell overboard just before 5pm on September 7 and died at the scene despite treatment from paramedics.

To avoid similar tragedies from happening again, the Royal Life Saving Society are asking people on the Fraser Coast to take great care around rivers and inland waterways.

In Queensland, rivers have claimed the lives of almost 300 people since 1 July 2002 and account for 31% all drowning deaths in Queensland over this period.

Alcohol-related drownings account for a third (33%) of all river drowning deaths in Queensland, and males account for 77% of all river drowning victims in the state.

Royal Life Saving, with the support of the Federal Government, is addressing these tragic statistics through a national drowning prevention and public awareness campaign called Respect the River.

Royal Life Saving Society Queensland Executive Director Michael Darben said more people drown in rivers than anywhere else.

"The dangers are often lurking below the surface, you simply can't see ice cold water, snags like tree branches or strong currents, but they can be lethal," Mr Darben said.

"We are urging Australians to be aware of these unique hazards and Respect the River."

Running alongside the Respect the River campaign is the Queensland Drowning Prevention Project.

This project is also working to prevent drowning in high risk inland waterways on a grass-roots level.

The project will conduct comprehensive environmental inland waterway safety risk assessments and conduct workshops to identify key issues and solutions to river drowning risk factors.

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