In the absence of an established literature, identifying and quantifying surf bather drowning risk factors requires a clearly defined problem-focused research strategy. To initiate this strategy, nominal group technique (NGT) was used to identify and rank risk and water exposure-related factors based on consensus of an expert panel. The results identified, in order, level of experience (encompassing swimming ability in surf conditions), lack of local knowledge (encompassing awareness of surf hazards, including rip currents), and surf conditions (encompassing prevailing wave height and rip currents) as the three most influential surf bather drowning risk factors. Factors most influential on exposure to water were identi fied and ranked as prevailing weather geographic location (encompassing bather accessibility to the beach), and infrastructure (encompassing the presence of artificial beach amenities). This study provides direction for future analytic epidemiological research and complementary studies on drowning at surf beaches and other locations. ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR
Objective This study assessed the utility of lifeguard rescue data for providing information on person and situation factors to inform surf bather drowning prevention research. Methods The dataset comprised 872 beach-days (daily lifeguard reports) obtained from 26 beaches over a 95-day period in Victoria, Australia. Results The rescue rate was 128 per 100,000 in-water bathers. One or more rescues were required on 125 beach-days (14%). Rescue on a beach-day was more likely for offshore wind conditions, relatively high daily air temperatures, and high bather numbers (P < .05). Compared to female bathers, males were more frequently rescued (65%) and more likely (P < .05) to be from a younger age group (30 years or less), although being older was associated with a relatively poorer condition on rescue. Conclusions Although rescues are proportional to water exposure, frequencies are also influenced by situation and person factors. Bathers at relatively high risk of rescue are hypothesized to be overrepresented in amenable sea and weather conditions, and poor patient condition on rescue may be associated with exposure to a preexisting health condition.