Life Saving Victoria is urging New Year’s Eve revellers to be careful when drinking alcohol near the water.
Alcohol was a factor in 20% of drowning incidents in Victoria in the 2016/17 financial year.
Notably there has been an average of nine alcohol-related drowning deaths each year over the past decade (2006/07 to 2015/16).
In many cases, people who have been drinking make poor decisions about entering the water or they unintentionally slip or fall in.
Unintentional water entry accounted for 40 per cent of fatal drowning incidents in Victoria last year (18).
“People need to stop thinking that it will never happen to them and realise that alcohol affects everyone, even those with strong swimming ability,” says Life Saving Victoria’s Dr Bernadette Matthews.
“Alcohol not only affects your judgement of situations, but also your ability to respond and react.
“Around the water, this means you are more likely to fall and less likely to be able to get yourself out of trouble.”
Dr Matthews encourages Victorians to keep socially responsible drinking separate to their water activities this New Year.
“It’s important to look out for your mates around water, and always have a designated non-drinker who can look out for your safety and respond in case of an emergency,” she says.
If you are planning to celebrate the New Year in Melbourne’s CBD, Life Saving Victoria is also reminding people it’s prohibited to swim in the Yarra River from the Westgate Bridge to Abbottsford.
“There are a lot of hidden dangers in the Yarra River such as strong currents, debris and submerged objects. It’s also very cold,’’ says Dr Matthews.
“There may also be unprotected and unstable edges along the river so it’s very easy to slip and fall in.’’
For interviews call Life Saving Victoria on 0411 193 962