Look out for your mates

7 April 2017

Research by Royal Life Saving Society has revealed that 1,932 men aged 15 years and over have fatally drowned between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2016, with one in four incidents involving alcohol.

Of the men who had been drinking and subsequently drowned, 66% would have failed a random breath test with a recorded a blood alcohol content above 0.05.

Royal Life Saving Society WA, CEO, Peter Leaversuch says “We are deeply concerned about the high levels of intoxication of men when in and around waterways. There has been great success in reducing drink driving on our roads, but rates of drinking whilst swimming or boating remain frighteningly high.”

Royal Life Saving with the support of the Federal Government has launched a national drowning prevention and public awareness campaign called "Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown" to prevent further drowning tragedies.

Men are four times more likely to drown than women, with males accounting for 80% of all drowning deaths! For this reason the Royal Life Saving “Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown" campaign is targeting men, and urging them to look out for each other, and to avoid alcohol consumption before and during swimming, boating and fishing in order to prevent further lives being lost to drowning.Three guys sitting on a kayak wearing lifejackets and laughing by the river

Mr Leaversuch says “The culture of drinking around water means men are at greater risk of drowning. We all know that men are prone to taking unnecessary risks and over-estimating their abilities, but after a few drinks this can be life threatening.”

One quarter of men were drunk and swimming when they drowned. A further 22% were drunk whilst on a boat or when using a watercraft. The Don’t Let your Mates Drink and Drown campaign targets men aged over 34 as research shows they are at higher risk of drinking and drowning than teenagers or young men.

“The campaign encourages men to look out for their mates by avoiding alcohol around water, and keeping them out of trouble by pulling them into line if they’ve been drinking and decide to go for a swim or take the boat for a spin” said Mr Leaversuch. “On weekends and public holidays in particular, men often get together for a day of boating, fishing or camping. We’re urging men to look out for their mates by avoiding alcohol when they’re around water and keeping them safe if they are drunk near the water."

Royal Life Saving believe that the culture of drinking around water is a big factor in male drowning. Mr Leaversuch said “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. This culture of drinking while swimming, boating or fishing means men are at greater risk of drowning.”

Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination, delaying reaction time, and heightening the chance of hypothermia. Royal Life Saving is urging men to look out for their mates and stand up to the sorts of risk taking behaviour that can lead to accidents and drowning.

In Australia there is a strong culture of men getting behind their mates when they need help, and Royal Life Saving is urging men to extend this approach to the issue of alcohol around water, by looking out for their mates and keeping each other safe.