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Media Release

New Drowning Prevention Campaign Urges Men, “Don’t let your mates drink and drown”

Royal Life Saving has launched a campaign in response to research showing that 1,932 men have drowned in the last decade, one in four involving alcohol.

Men are four times more likely to drown than women, with males accounting for 80% of all drowning deaths.

The Royal Life Saving “Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown" campaign is urging men to look out for each other, and to avoid alcohol consumption before and during swimming, boating and fishing in order to prevent further lives being lost to drowning. The campaign has been developed with support from the Federal Government.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, CEO, Justin Scarr says “The culture of drinking around water means men are at greater risk of drowning. We all know that men are prone to taking unnecessary risks and over-estimating their abilities, but after a few drinks this can be life threatening.”

One quarter of men were drunk and swimming when they drowned. A further 22% were drunk whilst on a boat or when using a watercraft.

The Don’t Let your Mates Drink and Drown campaign targets men aged over 34 as research shows they are at higher risk of drinking and drowning than teenagers or young men.

“The campaign encourages men to look out for their mates by avoiding alcohol around water, and keeping them out of trouble by pulling them into line if they’ve been drinking and decide to go for a swim or take the boat for a spin” said Mr Scarr.

The campaign will remind men of the risks of drinking and drowning through social media advertising, radio and TV community service announcements, print advertising, and localised activities and events, urging men to look out for their mates safety.

Research by Royal Life Saving Society has revealed that 1,932 men aged 15 years and over have fatally drowned between 1 July 2006 and 30 June 2016, with one in four incidents involving alcohol.

Of the men who had been drinking and subsequently drowned, 66% would have failed a random breath test with a recorded a blood alcohol content above 0.05.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, CEO, Justin Scarr says “We are deeply concerned about the high levels of intoxication of men when in and around waterways. There has been great success in reducing drink driving on our roads, but rates of drinking whilst swimming or boating remain frighteningly high.”

Royal Life Saving with the support of the Federal Government have launched a national drowning prevention and public awareness campaign called "Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown" to prevent further drowning tragedies.

“On weekends and public holidays in particular, men often get together for a day of boating, fishing or camping. We’re urging men to look out for their mates by avoiding alcohol when they’re around water and keeping them safe if they are drunk near the water,” said Mr Scarr.

Royal Life Saving believe that the culture of drinking around water is a big factor in male drowning. Mr Scarr said “For many Australian men an esky full of stubbies is just as important on a fishing trip as the bait, or than checking the conditions before swimming. This culture of drinking while swimming, boating or fishing means men are at greater risk of drowning.”

Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination, delaying reaction time, and heightening the chance of hypothermia.

Royal Life Saving are urging men to look out for their mates and stand up to the sorts of risk taking behaviour that can lead to accidents and drowning.

As part of the Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown campaign Royal Life Saving is alerting people of the dangers of mixing alcohol and water through social media advertising, local events, print advertising in pubs and clubs, and through key community groups. Additionally, Royal Life Saving are releasing a series of community services announcements on TV, radio, and print to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking around waterways, and encouraging men to look out for each other.

Key Facts

  • 79% of drowning deaths between 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2016 were male
  • 1,932 men aged 15 years and over have drowned in the past decade.
  • 25% of drowning deaths were known to involve alcohol
  • 57% of men who drowned with alcohol in their system were aged 35 years and over
  • Over half of men who drowned with alcohol in their systems were in inland waterways (54%)
  • Swimming and recreating in the water was the leading activity men were doing prior to drowning with alcohol in their system (25%), this was followed by the use of a watercraft (22%)
  • 74% of men who drowned with alcohol in their system were residing within 100km of the location where they drowned.
  • 66% of men who drowned with alcohol in their system were over the legal driving limit with a BAC ≥ 0.05

Real lives

1,932 men aged 15 years and over have drowned in the past decade. Each and every life lost is a tragedy. They are fathers, sons, brothers and grandparents.

Many people don’t think they’re at risk of drowning, not considering the risks of drinking around water, not wearing a lifejacket or going in the water alone.

Drowning can happen to anyone of any age. Alcohol increases the risk of drowning.

Stuart Dye, Captain of the Albury and Border Rescue Squad, recovers bodies from waterways around the Murray River region, the number one river drowning blackspot.

Stuart has recovered many bodies over the years which are still very vivid in his mind. A number of which were men who drowned under the influence of alcohol. Each person was doing seemingly harmless activities, fishing, swimming, or having fun with mates, but due to their inebriation, they tragically drowned.

Stuart gets frustrated at these tragedies that could have been avoided. The rescue squad are partnering with Royal Life Saving to spread the message that alcohol and water don’t mix.

Stuart Dye is making a call out to men, saying “Look out for your mates, don’t just stand back and let them do something stupid. Stand up and stop them from going for their final swim.”

Watch Stuart Dye and Peter Wright talk about their experience as volunteer divers for the Albury and Border Rescue Squad on the Murray River.

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