Look after your mates this Australia Day

24 January 2018

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. 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. Each year, many families and groups of friends gather by the Swan River and at other inland waterway locations 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. Locally, over the past year, there has been a 23% increase in the number of drowning deaths occurring at inland waterways in WA. And in the past three months there have been two deaths at inland waterway locations, with young men drowning at Blackwall Reach and Red Hill Quarry while taking part in cliff jumping.

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.

Royal Life Saving Senior Manager Health Promotion and Research, Lauren Nimmo, says “This culture of drinking while swimming, boating or fishing means that young men in particular are at much greater risk of drowning. Too many young people are ignoring the safety messages and are mixing alcohol and water, often with tragic consequences. On average, 23% of drowning deaths in WA are contributed to by alcohol each year which makes it is a significant drowning prevention issue. And it’s not just a couple of drinks – the average blood alcohol content recorded in these incidents was 0.206% - 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” says Ms Nimmo.

Royal Life Saving is urging all West Australians to look out for their mates this Australia Day, and ensure that everyone gets home safely.

Ms Nimmo says 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. 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


Learn more about how alcohol affects water safety at the link below.

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