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Royal Life Saving Society WA highlights risk of alcohol and aquatic environments

Royal Life Saving Society WA highlights risk of alcohol and aquatic environments
November 19, 2016

On the eve of school leavers events in Western Australia, Royal Life Saving Society WA is emphasising how young people continue to place themselves at unnecessary risk by drinking alcohol while in, on and around the water.

The water safety and education body cite statistics over the past 10 years that show 41 young people having drowned in Western Australia and a further 99 having been hospitalised following a non-fatal drowning incident, many of whom have ongoing health issues.

Of these, alcohol contributed to almost a quarter of all incidents and the tragedy is, that all of these are preventable.

Royal Life Saving Society WA Senior Manager, Health Promotion & Research Lauren Nimmo explained “these numbers are alarming and despite many years of education, the message still isn’t getting through.

“Young people continue to take unnecessary risks by drinking around the water.

“And it’s not just a quiet drink with friends; the majority of young people involved in these incidents recorded a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit for driving.

“We need to change young people’s perception that it won’t happen to them and highlight the real risk they are placing themselves and their friends at by drinking around the water.

“Young people need to realise that the consequences of drinking too much alcohol can be devastating and life changing.

“Drinking alcohol affects your ability to make safe decisions, impacts your coordination and can make you disoriented which become even more dangerous when you’re in or around water.”

As a young person, Eliza Mitchell, youth ambassador for the Don’t Drink and Drown program also understands the impact that alcohol has on young people.

Mitchell explains  “alcohol is unpredictable ... many people can be a few drinks down and then seemingly out of nowhere lose complete control of their own body.

“I have witnessed firsthand the risks people put themselves, and subsequently their friends in, by drinking at dangerous levels around the water.

“It is so important for young people to make safe and sensible decisions when in an aquatic environment.”

With thousands of school leavers heading to celebrations in the coming week the message is clear – alcohol and water don’t mix.

Nimmo concludes “we are urging young people to look after each other and celebrate safely while at Leavers next week.

“We want them to enjoy themselves but they need to be aware that the decisions they make now can have long lasting effects for themselves, their friends and family.” 

Image courtesy of Surf Life Saving Queensland.

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