Sun and surf among top summer hazards for Australians

An Australian expert has warned that among the top ten hazards for people in Australia this summer the beach culture plays a big role.

According to Professor Paul Barach from the Injury Risk Management Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) the summer sun and surf provide fun and sport but also has risks and he has predicted a sharp increase in drownings and boating accidents, high sun exposure and car crashes as holiday makers gravitate towards places by the water.

He says Australia is a big country with an overabundance of sunshine, beaches and waterways and summertime entices many to make long car journeys as they go on vacation to the sun and beaches to chill out.

However he says holiday journeys are often accompanied by high blood alcohol levels due to social drinking and this increases people’s exposure to the top three causes of injury-related deaths in the western world.

The top 10 hazards list compiled by the Centre used reports from the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), data from the US Centers for Disease Control, and informal surveys of UNSW injury experts and children; they are as follows:-

  1. Drowning and water craft injuries
  2. Sun damage/heat stroke
  3. Car crashes
  4. Motorbike/bicycle/scooter/four-wheel drive injuries
  5. Fire and explosions, burns
  6. Poisons - chemicals, bites from snakes and spiders
  7. Falls
  8. Sports injuries
  9. Pedestrian injuries
  10. Repetitive strain injuries (too much TV, video games and Wii)

The ABS figures reveal that motor vehicle collisions involving occupants and pedestrians are by far the leading cause of serious injury and death in Australia with an over-representation of young men aged 18 to 35 years.

Drownings are a leading cause of fatal injuries worldwide among children and Professor Barach says these occur most commonly when young children are unsupervised or exposed to open bodies of water and unfenced pools.

Health experts say there are also increasing reports of injuries linked to computer video games, and virtual reality games and they suggest this leads to an increased risk of falls, hyperextension and repetitive strain injuries.

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