Safety campaign targets drunk drowning

Scotts Head (file photo)
Scotts Head (file photo)

WITH temperatures set to be in the low to mid-30s in the Nambucca Valley for the long weekend, a safety agency is urging people not to mix alcohol and water activities.

New data from Royal Life Saving Society – Australia reveals that 2760 men lost their lives due to drowning in the past 15 years, between July 1 2003 and June 30 2018.

Of those deaths, 18 per cent are known to have had a contributory level of alcohol in their system. This figure has the potential to be higher, given that the blood alcohol content was unknown in a further 42 per cent of cases.

The combination of warmer weather and celebrations around water can be deadly, with January recording the highest number of alcohol related drowning deaths.

In the lead up to the Australia Day long weekend, Royal Life Saving Society - Australia with support of the Federal Government, is launching the ‘Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown’ campaign, to remind men of the serious issue surrounding alcohol consumption near water.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia - CEO Justin Scarr, says “we are deeply concerned about the high level of intoxication of men when in and around waterways. A culture of risk-taking behaviour by men around water can be dangerous, and when combined with alcohol, can be fatal.”

Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination, and delaying reaction time. The average blood alcohol concentration of males who drowned with a positive reading of alcohol in their system was almost three times the legal driving limit. The highest blood alcohol concentration recorded was 10 times the legal driving limit at 0.523.

“Alarmingly, the males who are drowning under the influence of alcohol aren’t just having a drink or two, they’re significantly inebriated,” Mr Scarr said.

“Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination, and delaying reaction time.”

An image from the awareness campaign

An image from the awareness campaign

Of the activities resulting in drowning deaths while under the influence of alcohol, 41 per cent were as a result of jumping in, and 32 per cent were due to accidental falls into water.

Rivers, creeks, and streams were the leading location for drink drowning, accounting for 28 per cent of all male drowning deaths with a contributory blood alcohol level.

Most men who were drunk when they drowned were with someone at the time. Royal Life Saving – Australia is urging men not to just stand by, but to call their mates out when they’re being reckless around water.

“Leave the booze until safely away from the water, look out for your mates and pull them into line if they’re under the influence and thinking about doing something reckless near water such as swimming or boating. You will literally save their life,” Mr Scarr said.

Safety tips:

Avoid entering the water after drinking alcohol

Know your limits

Never swim alone

Learn how to resuscitate

Also making the news: