With Australia Day just around the corner, Royal Life Saving WA is urging all Western Australians to be safe around the water and to look after their mates.
So far this summer 42 Australians have lost their lives to drowning, and while this number is down on last year the risks are still high.
Each year, many families and groups of friends gather by inland waterways to celebrate. However, what many won’t realise is that inland waterways pose a significant drowning risk.
Australia’s inland waterways continue to be the leading location for fatal drowning, accounting for 97 deaths in 2016/17 – almost one third of the nation’s total drowning toll.
“This culture of drinking while swimming, boating or fishing means that young men in particular are at much greater risk of drowning,” Royal Life Saving senior manager health promotion and research, Lauren Nimmo said.
“Too many young people are ignoring the safety messages and are mixing alcohol and water, often with tragic consequences.”
Read more: Australia Day advice for boat users
Over the past year, there has been a 23 percent increase in the number of drowning deaths occurring at inland waterways in WA.
Celebrations around rivers and other inland waterways on Australia Day are often accompanied by alcohol consumption, which brings with it added risks for all people whether they are out on the boat, heading out to catch fish or relaxing around their home pool.
It’s especially dangerous for young men for whom a culture of risk taking behaviour is quite prevalent and when combined with alcohol and/or drugs can be fatal.
“On average, 23 percent of drowning deaths in WA are contributed to by alcohol each year which makes it is a significant drowning prevention issue,” Ms Nimmo said.
“And it’s not just a couple of drinks – the average blood alcohol content recorded in these incidents was 0.206 percent – more than four times the legal limit for driving.
“When you drink alcohol and mix it with aquatic activities it not only places you at a greater risk of drowning but it also places your friends and family at a greater risk too.”
Ms Nimmo said the message is simple.
“Leave the booze until you are safely away from the water, and pull your friends into line if they’re under the influence and thinking about swimming or boating,” she said.
“You can literally save their life.
“For many Australian men an esky full of stubbies is just as important on a fishing trip as the bait or checking the conditions before swimming.”
Tips For Looking Out For Your Mates:
- Stand up to your mates if they suggest swimming or taking out a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Suggest alternative activities away from the water when under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Enjoying the water before any drugs alcohol consumed
- Don’t leave your friends alone if they’re under the influence around water