Flood fatalities in contemporary Australia (1997-2008): disaster medicine

Fitzgerald, Gerry and Du, Weiwei and Jamal, Aziz and Clark, Michele and Hou, Xiang-Yu (2010) Flood fatalities in contemporary Australia (1997-2008): disaster medicine. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 22 (2). pp. 180-186. ISSN 1742-6731


Objective: Flood is the most common natural disaster in Australia and causes more loss of life than any other disaster. This article describes the incidence and causes of deaths directly associated with floods in contemporary Australia.

Methods: The present study compiled a database of flood fatalities in Australia in the period of 1997–2008 inclusive. The data were derived from newspapers and historic accounts, as well as government and scientific reports. Assembled data include the date and location of fatalities, age and gender of victims and the circumstances of the death.

Results: At least 73 persons died as a direct result of floods in Australia in the period of 1997–2008. The largest number of fatalities occurred in New South Wales and Queensland. Most fatalities occurred during February, and among men (71.2%). People between the ages of 10 and 29 and those over 70 years are overrepresented among those drowned. There is no evident decline in the number of deaths over time. 48.5% fatalities related to motor vehicle use. 26.5% fatalities occurred as a result of inappropriate or high-risk behaviour during floods.

Conclusion: In modern developed countries with adequate emergency response systems and extensive resources, deaths that occur in floods are almost all eminently preventable. Over 90% of the deaths are caused by attempts to ford flooded waterways or inappropriate situational conduct. Knowledge of the leading causes of flood fatalities should inform public awareness programmes and public safety police enforcement activities.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2021 06:21
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2021 06:21
Uncontrolled Keywords: Australia; disaster; flood fatalities; flooding
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420699 Public health not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-6723.2010.01284.x
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/42366

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