Source: The Herald Sun, 30 October, 1996, p.5


Drink swim deaths rise



By MATTHEW MORAN

 



 
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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