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and to keep safety top of mind when visiting the beach this Australia Day.

With temperatures set to soar across the country, beach visitors are expected to flock to the coast to celebrate the national holiday. Surf lifesavers will be on high alert with recent statistics showing that fatal drowning deaths are 2.4 times more likely to occur on public holidays.

The national summer drowning toll currently total sits at 22*, just below the 16-year average, with 90% of those occurring at unpatrolled locations.

New research ** has shown that young men are particularly at risk of drowning on a public holiday, with SLSA General Manager Coastal Safety, Shane Daw, warning in particular about the dangers of alcohol.

“We know on public holidays people like to be in and around water with family and friends, and that these celebrations often include alcohol. But the simple fact is alcohol does not mix well when you’re swimming, boating or fishing,” said Daw.

“We know that young men are 1.8 times more likely to drown on public holidays and in too many cases, while under the influence of alcohol.

“The average blood alcohol level for young men who have drowned was more than three times the legal driving limit. If you wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car, you absolutely shouldn’t go into the water.

“So for everyone, but particularly men, the message this Australia Day weekend is simple – don’t mix alcohol with swimming and please swim at a patrolled beach,” added Daw.

With so many Australians’ staying home these holidays and exploring their own backyard, Daw stressed the importance of finding a local patrolled beach.

“The BeachSafe APP (beachsafe.org.au) identifies all the patrolled beaches in Australia and provides essential safety information about these locations so all Australians can enjoy the coast safely this weekend, and for the rest of summer,” he said.

“Our volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards will be on hand to keep watch over our beaches. So swim between the red and yellow flags if visiting our beaches, and don’t forget your lifejacket while boating, on watercraft or rock fishing.”

For more information on how to stay safe when visiting the beach this summer, or find your nearest patrolled locations visit www.beachsafe.org.au or download the BeachSafe APP.

Disclaimer: 2020/21 drowning figures shown are derived from media reports only. As such, they should be considered interim, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations.

*Since 1 December 2020

**Risky business: a 15-year analysis of fatal coastal drowning of young male adults in Australia https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2020/11/18/injuryprev-2020-043969

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