Effects of alcohol
Alcohol can significantly increase the risk of drowning. Alcohol affects everyone differently; therefore there is no amount of alcohol that can be said to be safe for everyone. Even small amounts of alcohol can effect behaviour and ability, increasing the risk of drowning.
66% of all men who had alcohol in their system when they drowned recorded a blood alcohol level greater than 0.05. If it’s not safe to consume that level of alcohol and drive a car, it’s just as dangerous to be fishing, boating or swimming drunk.
Here are some of the effects of alcohol and how it can heighten the risk of drowning:
- Impairs Judgement – Alcohol distorts perception of risk, and one’s abilities.
- Increases Risk Taking Behaviour – Alcohol removes inhibitions.
- Reduces Coordination – Alcohol numbs the senses, particularly sight, sound and touch leading to unsteadiness and inability to climb or swim making it hard to get out of trouble.
- Impairs Reaction Time – Alcohol is a depressant, reducing the rate the brain processes information. In water emergencies where response times are vital, it can prove the difference between life and death.
- Hypothermia – In cold situations, the body will attempt to draw blood away from the limbs and to the vital organs to prevent heat loss. Alcohol, however, prevents this and therefore increases the chance of hypothermia
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