New research has highlighted that better beach signs can help improve safety and prevent drownings.
The work is from the University of Adelaide, which examined how Australian citizens and foreign-born beach users interpreted current signage on Australian beaches.
The research interviewed 160 participants and came to various conclusions, including:
- Clear color coding, with many signs in yellow, while red is more often associated with danger for many communities.
- Clearer explanation of the hazard, whether it be poison, a sting, and such.
- Using photos, not just symbols, to help non-native speakers.
The study was conducted by Dr. Masaki Shibata from the University of Adelaide.
Commenting on the work, Shibata stated:
“According to the National Coastal Safety Report 2022, 939 coastal drowning fatalities were recorded from 2012-2022, almost half of which were overseas-born beachgoers. However, the 939 fatalities were only of people whose birth continent was known, so the total number of drownings is higher. Approximately 50 percent of overseas-born beachgoers and 40 percent of Australians rarely or never read beach safety signage at beaches they’re not familiar with. Approximately half of the overseas-born beachgoers had no understanding of some beach safety terms such as high surf, shore dump, or bluebottle. Not reading the signs, or not understanding them, could have deadly consequences.”
“Not reading the signs, or not understanding them, could have deadly consequences. I hope my suggestions will be taken into consideration in the much-needed revision of beach safety signage…While they represent ‘always swim between the flags,’ more than 30 percent of the overseas visitors and residents believe that beach flags mean that only people ‘perceived to be good swimmers’ were allowed to be between the flags.”
You can find the original research here.