Royal Life Saving urges men to ‘Make the Right Call’ this summer

Inland waterways accounted for nearly 40% of all drowning deaths in Australia over the past 10 years. Of these deaths, over 80% were male, most of them occurred in the summer months (41%) and 32% involved alcohol.

These are the stark findings of research carried out by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia. From 2009 to 2019, 2855 people lost their lives to drowning. An overwhelming 2262 of these deaths were male; of these, 837 deaths occurred in inland waterways, 287 of which involved alcohol.

The research puts this down to risk-taking behaviours involving poor-decision making, such as alcohol consumption and not wearing a lifejacket while recreating on water, as well as swimming alone.

Alcohol reduces coordination and can impair a person’s judgement and reaction time, thereby reducing inhibition and distorting the perception of risk. Wearing a lifejacket can increase a person’s chance of survival by 50%. Isolated natural aquatic environments increase the risk of drowning due to changeable conditions and geographical remoteness.

Justin Scarr, CEO of Royal Life Saving, said “Our data suggests that men, recreating in our inland waterways in the summer, while consuming alcohol is a deadly cocktail. More needs to be done to educate men on the risks and the consequences of their actions when recreating in, on and around the water, which is why we are launching our ‘Make the Right Call’ campaign, aimed at men to keep themselves and their mates safe around aquatic environments.”

Royal Life Saving’s ‘Make the Right Call’ campaign highlights a common sense approach and advocates simple safety tips to prevent drowning:

  • Avoid alcohol around water
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating or using watercraft
  • Avoid swimming or recreating alone

Mr Scarr added “Drowning is a preventable killer. We need to change people’s attitude to risk and their behaviours around water – especially men. Most people think ‘it won’t happen to me’. Our work shows that poor decision making can lead to tragedy. That’s why we’re asking people to share the responsibility of keeping everyone safe around the water and to ‘make the right call’ – love the water, enjoy the water but do it safely while looking after yourselves and your mates.”

Notes to the editor - Royal Life Saving data shows that in 2018/19:

  • 45% of drowning deaths in Australia occurred in the summer months
  • Most drowning incidents (81%) involved males
  • Inland waterways claimed more lives than any other waterway (37%). Inland waterways include rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, lagoons and dams
  • Unintentional falls into water accounted for 13% of drowning deaths

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia’s research, education and advocacy work in drowning prevention and water safety is supported by the Australian Government.

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