News

Look out for your mates

By Benalla Ensign

With temperatures soaring across Victoria’s north east, Royal Life Saving Australia is urging people not to mix alcohol and water activities.

New data from Royal Life Saving Australia reveals that 2760 men lost their lives because of drowning in the past 15 years, between July 1, 2003, and June 30, last year.

Of those deaths, 18 per cent are known to have had a contributory level of alcohol in their system.

This figure has the potential to be higher, given that the blood alcohol content was unknown in a further 42 per cent of cases.

The combination of warmer weather and celebrations around water can be deadly, with January recording the highest number of alcohol-related drowning deaths.

In the lead up to the Australia Day long weekend, Royal Life Saving Australia with support of the Federal Government, is launching the ‘‘Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown’’ campaign, to remind men of the serious risks surrounding alcohol consumption near water.

Royal Life Saving Australia chief executive Justin Scarr said the society was ‘‘deeply concerned about the high level of intoxication of men when in and around waterways’’.

‘‘A culture of risk-taking behaviour by men around water can be dangerous, and when combined with alcohol, can be fatal,’’ Mr Scarr said.

Of the activities resulting in drowning deaths while under the influence of alcohol, 41 per cent were as a result of jumping in, and 32 per cent were due to accidental falls into water.

‘‘Look out for your mates, leave the booze until safely away from the water, and pull them into line if they’re under the influence and thinking about swimming or boating,’’ Mr Scarr said.

‘‘You can literally save their life.’’

Royal Life Saving Australia recommends the following safety tips to keep your mates safe around waterways:

●avoid entering the water after drinking alcohol;

●know your limits;

●never swim alone; and

●learn how to resuscitate.

●Learn more at www.royallifesaving.com.au/lookoutforyourmates