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
Look out for your mates by:
  • Standing up to them if they suggest swimming or taking out a boat under the influence of alcohol
  • Suggesting alternative activities away from the water when under the influence of alcohol
  • Enjoying the water before any alcohol is consumed
  • Not leaving them alone if they’re under the influence around water
What to do if your mate is in trouble:
  • Stay with them, don’t leave them alone
  • Call out for help
  • Call triple zero (000) for emergency support
  • Commence CPR

Avoid alcohol when you’re around water and keep your mates out of trouble if they’ve been drinking and decide to go for a swim or take the boat for a spin.

Royal Life Saving Don't Let your Mates Drink and Drown