Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is reminding people about the dangers of consuming alcohol around water this Melbourne Cup long weekend.
With inconsistent weather predicted for the beginning of the Flemington racing carnival, revellers are still expected to make their way to the races on river cruises and enjoy the day at venues along the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers.
The warning follows the recent release of the National Drowning Report highlighting rivers, creeks and streams as the top location in Australia for drowning in the year to 30 June 2018, and the fact the Yarra River is the deadliest inland waterway in Victoria, and the third-deadliest nationally.
Life Saving Victoria’s Principal Research Associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said alcohol represents around a quarter of drowning deaths in Victoria each year.
“On average nine drownings in Victoria each year are alcohol related. This risk is heightened during holiday periods as many people head to, or celebrate near, the water,’’ Dr Matthews said.
“In all drowning deaths that involve a high reading for alcohol, one third occurred at rivers. That is compared to one fifth occurring at beaches,” she said.
Statistics reveal men are four times more likely to drown than women, with males accounting for 80% of all drowning deaths. 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.