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Double caution urged in public holidays
ROYAL Life Saving NSW/ ACT is urging men to know their limits and avoid taking unnecessary risks this Australia Day. 
On public holidays the major known contributors to drowning fatalities combine to double the risk of drowning. 
With 77 per cent of Australia’s 22/23 summer’s drowning toll being men swimming in open waterways RLS TAS is calling for double caution.
Craig Roberts, General Manager, Drowning Prevention Royal Life Saving NSW/ ACT, said three of the major contributing factors to drowning fatalities are gender, alcohol and location, with alcohol contributing to 35 per cent of all public holiday drowning incidents.
“Enjoying the water is an Australian way of life and public holidays are a time for all communities to socialise and embrace our waterways. Unfortunately, known risk factors traditionally combine to double the risk of drowning on long weekends,” he said.
“In general alcohol is a factor in 16 per cent of drowning deaths. On a public holiday that rate jumps to 35 per cent, so this time of year we’re asking people to double their precaution.
“Men need to know their limits when it comes to alcohol consumption in, on and around our waterways.
“Alcohol affects everyone differently. This means no amount of alcohol can be said to be safe for everyone. Even small amounts of alcohol can affect the ability to judge your physical limitations and to react.”
He said being able to judge physical limitations is particularly important in open waterways.
“Over the past 10 years including this summer, most drowning deaths in men have occurred at inland waterways. Rivers and creeks account for 33% of deaths, more than any other location.
“Inland waterway blackspots in NSW include: the Murray River, the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga, the Parramatta and Georges Rivers in Sydney, the Nepean River at Penrith, the Tweed River and the Hawkesbury River.
“Tragically over the Christmas period, 17 people have died in NSW and 43 nationally with countless more rescues by Lifesavers, Lifeguards and Emergency Service personnel. While alcohol may not have been a factor in these tragedies, we know it compounds the risk and we encourage everyone to minimise their risks.
“The message is simple: let’s keep each other safe around the water. Whether you’re fishing, boating, swimming, paddling or playing on shore, have fun, and stay safe around the water.
“There are four simple tips to keeping each other safe. On long weekends or when alcohol is involved, let’s double the lookout for family and friends:
Know your limits and avoid taking risks.
Check the conditions before you head out.
Wear a lifejacket when on the water.
Supervise children at all times.
Key Talking Points regarding Alcohol and Drowning
Alcohol can heighten the risk of drowning because it:
Impairs judgement. Alcohol distorts the perception of risk and one’s abilities, including the abilities of others
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
For further information please visit www.drowningprevention.org.au


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.