MEDIA RELEASE Monday 23 January, 2023 - Double caution urged as public holidays, alcohol and being male double the risk factors
Royal Life Saving is urging men to know their limits and avoid taking unnecessary risks this Australia Day. On public holidays the major known contributors to drowning fatalities combine to double the risk of drowning. With 77 per cent of Australia’s 22/23 summer’s drowning toll being men swimming in open waterways Royal Life Saving is calling for double caution.
Craig Roberts, General Manager, Drowning Prevention Royal Life Saving , said three of the major contributing factors to drowning fatalities are gender, alcohol and location, with alcohol contributing to 35 per cent of all public holiday drowning incidents.
“Enjoying the water is an Australian way of life and public holidays are a time for all communities to socialise and embrace our waterways. Unfortunately, known risk factors traditionally combine to double the risk of drowning on long weekends.
“In general alcohol is a factor in 16 per cent of drowning deaths. On a public holiday that rate jumps to 35 per cent, so this time of year we’re asking people to double their precaution. “Men in particular need to know their limits when it comes to alcohol consumption in, on and around our waterways.
“Alcohol affects everyone differently. This means no amount of alcohol can be said to be safe for everyone. Even small amounts of alcohol can affect the ability to judge your physical limitations and to react.”
He said being able to judge physical limitations is particularly important in open waterways. “Over the past 10 years including this summer, most drowning deaths in men have occurred at inland waterways. Rivers and creeks account for 33% of deaths, more than any other location.
“Inland waterway blackspots in NSW include: the Murray River, the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga, the Parramatta and Georges Rivers in Sydney, the Nepean River at Penrith, the Tweed River and the Hawkesbury River.
“Tragically over the Christmas period, 17 people have died in NSW and 43 nationally with countless more rescues by Lifesavers, Lifeguards and Emergency Service personnel. While alcohol may not have been a factor in these tragedies, we know it compounds the risk and we encourage everyone to minimise their risks.
“The message is simple: let’s keep each other safe around the water. Whether you’re fishing, boating, swimming, paddling or playing on shore, have fun, and stay safe around the water.
“There are four simple tips to keeping each other safe. On long weekends or when alcohol is involved, let’s double the lookout for family and friends:
Know your limits and avoid taking risks
Check the conditions before you head out
Wear a lifejacket when on the water
Supervise children at all times
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