It may be spring racing fever, but the weather on Melbourne Cup Day is forecast for low temperatures, wind and rain, making it the coldest first week of November since 1994.
Despite the weather, revellers will still be making their way to Flemington on river cruises, or celebrating the day at venues along the Yarra River, so Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is reminding people about the dangers of mixing alcohol and swimming this Melbourne Cup public holiday period.
The warning follows the recent release of the National Drowning report highlighting rivers/creeks and streams as the top location for drowning in the year to 30 June 2017, combined with news the Yarra River was named the deadliest inland waterway in Victoria (per kilometre).
Life Saving Victoria’s Principal Research Associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said alcohol represents 23 per cent of drowning deaths in Victoria each year.
“On average nine drownings in Victoria each year are alcohol related and this risk is heightened during holiday periods as many people head to the beach, pool, lakes or rivers,” Dr Matthews said.
“We have found about one third of drowning deaths where alcohol has been consumed were at rivers and 19 per cent at beaches,” she said.
Statistics reveal 8 out of 10 alcohol related drownings involve males and most are aged between 25 and 44. Typical activities prior to drowning include swimming and unintentional entry into water such as slips, trips and falls.
Dr Matthews is urging people not to let their mates drink and drown: “Alcohol affects your swimming ability and judgement of dangerous situations. It can affect the balance in your inner ear, so you may think you are swimming towards the surface when are in fact going down.”
It’s important to drink responsibly around water, swim with a friend where possible, and watch your step around water while enjoying the Melbourne Cup this year.