Research findings that one in four of the 1,932 men who drowned in the last decade had been drinking alcohol has inspired a new drowning prevention campaign, launched by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia in April.
Developed with the support of the Federal Government, the aim of the ‘Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown’ campaign is to generate public awareness of the dangers of mixing alcohol and water.
The campaign urges men 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.
LSV is working alongside Royal Life Saving to deliver the ‘Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown’ message across the state.
LSV has supported the campaign via social media and radio, with a presence at community events along the Murray River – the number one inland waterway drowning blackspot in Australia.
A team from LSV spent Easter Sunday at the Mildura 100 Ski Race on the bank of the Murray River, talking to locals and visitors alike about the dangers of combining alcohol and water-based activities such as swimming, paddling and boating.
The team were again on the road to regional Victoria at the end of April, setting up further along the Murray River at Echuca’s Barrie Beehag Ski Race, taking place at Deep Creek Marina.
Each ski race event attracted crowds of over 3000 and provided fantastic opportunities for LSV to engage with local men and their families, talking about the dangers of drinking around waterways and the importance of mates looking out for each other.
Men are four times more likely to drown than women, with males accounting for 80 per cent of all drowning deaths.
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.
LSV CEO Dr Nigel Taylor 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 swimming under the influence of alcohol when they drowned. A further 22 per cent were intoxicated while on a boat or when using a watercraft.
“This campaign encourages men to look out for their mates by avoiding alcohol around water, and keeping them out of trouble if they’ve been drinking and decide to go for a swim or take the boat for a spin,” Dr Taylor said.
Research by Royal Life Saving has revealed that 1932 men aged 15 years and over 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 per cent would have failed a random breath test with a recorded a blood alcohol content above 0.05.
“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 drinking alcohol near the water,” Dr Taylor said.
Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination, delaying reaction time, and heightening the chance of hypothermia.