Source: The Herald Sun, 30 October, 1996, p.5
YOUNG men who go for a swim after a few beers are drowning faster than any other age group. Alarming figures show a 12.3 per cent increase in drowning deaths in the 25 to 34 year old age group, and 90 per cent of the deaths were male. Alcohol accounted for 50 per cent of all drowning deaths, the figures from the Royal Life Saving Society Australia show. But out of the 292 people who drowned last year, none died while swimming between the flags at a patrolled beach. Drowning is the third largest cause of accidental death in Australia after car crashes and falls, and is the largest cause of accidental death in children under five years old . Federal Sports Minister Warwick Smith yesterday called for people to think if they drink around water. "There has been a worrying increase in male drownings in the past year," he said. "It is particularly worrying to see the effect that alcohol has on the number of drowning deaths, with 50 per cent being related to drink- ing." More than 61 per cent of all drowning deaths occurred in rural areas, most of them in creeks, rivers and dams. "Every drowning can be avoided. The fact that out of the 39 per cent of drowning deaths in coastal areas, none occurred inside the flags, is an indication of the success of learn to swim campaigns and lifesaving programs," Mr Smith said. Asher Kozma, 2, began his first pool safety lesson at Harold Holt swimming centre yesterday. More babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are getting involved in water safety classes as parents become aware of their importance. Experts generally agree that youngsters can be taught to swim before they can walk, with the recommended starting age for infant aquatic programs about 12 months. While the children see the classes as fun, they are learning survival techniques and water confidence. Private pools accounted for 12 per cent of deaths, while only 1 per cent occurred in public pools. The RLSSA yesterday launched a "Keep Kids Afloat" campaign to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in child drowning deaths by the year 2000.
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