Young men at greatest risk of drowning this summer

21 January 2022

Young men aged 18 to 34 are at the highest risk of drowning this summer, according to new analysis from Royal Life Saving Society - Australia. Royal Life Saving’s Summer Drowning Toll shows that since the 1st of December, 54 people have drowned in waterways across Australia – up from 48 at the same time last year. Almost a quarter of those who have died were young men.

There was an even split between inland and coastal waterways as the location for drowning deaths in this age group, highlighting the need for people visiting rivers and lakes to be aware of the risks including submerged items that can be just below the surface.

Here in Western Australia we’ve done comparatively better than the other states, with our figures down on last year. So far since the 1st December we’ve seen two drowning deaths in WA compared to 6 at the same time last year, but Royal Life Saving WA’s Manager Marketing Communications Samantha Vigus says we can’t afford to be complacent. "With the hot weather at the moment, and a public holiday coming up next week a lot of people are likely to be heading to the river, the beach or a pool to cool down, and we’re just urging people to take care when they’re in or around the water."

One of the main issues young men are being urged to consider is the risks associated with alcohol around water. Mrs Vigus says we know that drinking alcohol around water can be lethal. “Royal Life Saving research shows that 33 per cent of young men drown with alcohol in their system, with over half being intoxicated at the time of drowning. We’re asking young men to look out for themselves and their mates when they’re around water. You don’t have to be the fun police, but we’re just asking young men to be the sensible voice in their crew and look after themselves and their mates while also keeping the party going."

Royal Life Saving is also particularly concerned with the dangers posed by river blackspots across the nation, with the Murray River in News South Wales, Victoria and South Australia the number one risk location, closely followed by Melbourne's Yarra River, the Hawkesbury River in News South Wales and the Swan River here in Perth. Mrs Vigus encourages West Australians to enjoy the Swan safely. "We know it’s an incredible river, very vast, with a whole range of great spots to recreate, but the issue with rivers is that they can seem quite calm on the surface, while hiding some dangers below – snags, rocks, submerged objects, undercurrents. Always make sure you know the conditions at the water location you’re visiting, avoid alcohol when you’re around water – save the beers for after you’re done with swimming – wear a lifejacket if you’re boating or fishing, and importantly never go alone – if your get into trouble it's best to have someone else there who can help out."