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Royal Lifesavers issue warning over drowning deaths

The Royal Lifesaving report into Drowning Deaths has shown that men are enormously over-represented in drowning statistics.

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Of the people who drowned in Victoria over the 2019/2020 period, 70 per cent of them were men.

Principal Research Associate for Life Saving Victoria, Dr Bernadette Matthews, says research shows that alcohol is often involved. Almost one in five cases of fatal drowning among men aged 25 to 44 involved a blood alcohol content of 0.05 or more.

"Unfortunately we do find that males are four times more likely to drown than females, and often we see that's due to men taking more risks around water," she says.

"It is really important to make sure not to drink alcohol before you go into the water. And if you are going to be drinking around water, make sure you've got a designated non drinker so that if you do get into trouble, there's someone who can get help."

The other compelling statistic to come out of the report was that rivers and creeks are the most dangerous place to swim. Of the drowning deaths in Victoria last year, 24 per cent of those occurred in rivers or creeks, compared to only 6 per cent in the ocean. In New South Wales, river drownings accounted for 23 per cent.

"Often when people think of drowning they think of beaches, but rivers do hold a significant risk for drowning," explains Dr Matthews.

"There can often be strong currents that you can't necessarily see, the water can be cold as well as moving quite quickly, and there's also often hidden debris as well."

Life Saving Victoria is urging North East and Border residents to take safety seriously while swimming this summer. Crucially, they are urging parents to keep a close eye on their kids, saying children under five should always be within arms reach, and children under 10 should always be within sight around water.

Dr Matthews says this is of particular concern this year, after many children missed out on swimming lessons this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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