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Surf zone hazards and injuries on beaches in SW France

Bruno Castelle (), Rob Brander, Eric Tellier, Bruno Simonnet, Tim Scott, Jak McCarroll, Jean-Michel Campagne, Thibault Cavailhes and Pierre Lechevrel
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Bruno Castelle: University of Bordeaux
Rob Brander: UNSW Sydney
Eric Tellier: INSERM
Bruno Simonnet: CHU de Bordeaux, Pôle Urgences adultes, SAMU-SMUR
Tim Scott: University of Plymouth
Jak McCarroll: University of Plymouth
Jean-Michel Campagne: Hospital Centre Côte Basque
Thibault Cavailhes: University of Bordeaux
Pierre Lechevrel: University of Bordeaux

Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, 2018, vol. 93, issue 3, 1317-1335

Abstract: Abstract Surf zone injuries (SZIs) are common worldwide, yet limited data are available for many geographical regions, including Europe. This study provides the first preliminary overview of SZIs along approximately 230 km of hazardous surf beaches in SW France during the summer season. A total of 2523 SZIs over 186 sample days during the summers of 2007, 2009 and 2015 were analysed. Documented injury data included date and time; beach location; flag colour; outside/inside of the bathing zone; age, gender, country and home postal code of the victim; activity; cause of injury; injury type and severity. Injuries sustained ranged from mild contusion to fatal drowning, including severe spinal injuries, wounds and luxation. While the most severe injuries (drowning) were related to rip currents, a large number of SZIs occurred as a result of shore-break waves (44.6%; n = 1125) and surfing activity (31.0%; n = 783) primarily inside and outside of lifeguard-patrolled bathing zones, respectively. Victims were primarily French living more than 40 km from the beach (75.9% of the reported addresses; n = 1729), although a substantial number of victims originated from Europe (14.7% of the addresses reported; n = 335), including the Netherlands (44.2%; n = 148), Germany (26.3%; n = 88) and Belgium (12.5%; n = 49). The predominant age group involved in the incidents was between 10 and 25 years (54.5%; n = 1376) followed by between 35 and 50 years (22.6%; n = 570), with the majority of SZIs involving males (69.6%, n = 1617). Despite the large predominance (74.1%; n = 33) of males involved in the most severe drowning incidents, all of which occurred outside the bathing zone, a surprisingly large proportion of females (48.0%; n = 133) experienced milder drowning incidents involving only minor to moderate respiratory impairment, peaking at 58.2% (n = 85) within the age group 10–25. The spine/cervical injury population is very young, with 58.5% (n = 313) within the age group 10–20. Specific injuries tended to occur in clusters (e.g. rip-current drowning or shore-break injury) with particular days prone to rip-current drowning or hazardous shore-break waves, suggesting the potential to predict the level of risk to beachgoers based on basic weather and marine conditions. This study calls for increased social-based beach safety research in France and the development of more effective public awareness campaigns to highlight the surf zone hazards, even within a supervised bathing zone. These campaigns should be targeted towards young males and females, in order to reduce the number of injuries and drownings occurring on beaches in SW France.

Keywords: Surf zone hazards; Drowning; Spinal injuries; Rip currents; Shore break; Surfing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:spr:nathaz:v:93:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11069-018-3354-4