Summer Safety Warning: Alcohol & Water A Deadly Combination

Blokes and booze. It can be a bad mix at the best of times but new research suggests it’s a commonly deadly combination in and around the nation’s rivers.

Number crunching from Royal Life Saving Australia has found of the 1,087 people who drowned in rivers, streams and creeks over the past 15 years –- 80 percent were men.

Of that number more than half had been drinking.

Of adult males who drowned in rivers more than half were either actually under the influence of a contributory level of alcohol or drugs. Image: Getty

“We do see alcohol playing quite a big role,” Royal Life Saving Australia researcher Amy Peden told 10 News First.

“Of adult males who drowned in rivers, 56 percent were either actually under the influence of a contributory level of alcohol, which is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 or above, or under the influence of prescription or illicit medication.”

“And unfortunately we normally see both combined.”

On top of the more than 1,000 deaths, a further 522 people were hospitalised after near-drowning incidents.

Surf life savers and members of the public crowd around a rescue at Bronte Beach in Sydney earlier this year. Image: Getty

Many were left with permanent injuries.

“We actually see an average blood alcohol reading among adults who were drinking in the rivers of 0.2, which is four times the legal limit,” Peden said.

READ MORE: Alcohol And Drugs Involved In One Fifth Of Australian Drownings

READ MORE: Aussies Knock Back Almost Double World Average Alcohol Amount

It may go some way to explaining why rivers are the leading location for drownings in Australia.


Between July 1, 2008 –  June 30, 2018

  • Murray River (41 deaths)
  • Brisbane River, QLD (25 deaths)
  • Yarra River, VIC (25 deaths)
  • Hawkesbury River, NSW (15 deaths)
  • Murrumbidgee River, NSW (14 deaths)
  • Georges River, NSW (12 deaths)
  • Nepean River, NSW (10 deaths)
  • Parramatta River, NSW (10 deaths)
  • Swan River, WA (10 deaths)
  • Tweed River, NSW/QLD (10 deaths)

Royal Life Saving has launched a ‘Respect the River’ campaign in time for summer, hoping swimmers will take note of safety tips before hitting the water to escape the heat.

The latest climate outlook from the weather bureau suggests the water will be the place to be.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting an 80 percent chance of hotter than average days and nights for most of the nation between December and February.

A global study earlier this year found Aussies knock back almost double the world average alcohol amount. Image: Getty

“Expect some hot days and expect some sticky nights most certainly,” senior climatologist Dr Andrew Watkins said.

Unfortunately, the same outlook had bad news on the rainfall front.

It’s unlikely there’ll be the drought breaking rain farmers in the nation’s south had been hoping for.

“The reality is we need several months of above average rainfall to get us out of the current drought.” Watkins said.

“We really need to look forward until autumn of next year and hopefully the first drought breaking rains will come then.”

Featured Image: Getty