AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, warned Australians to take the utmost care around water this holiday season.
A/Prof Owler said that the hotter summer weather attracts people to backyard pools, the beach, lakes, rivers, and creeks in large numbers, and often alcohol is involved.
“With the holidays and warm weather drawing millions to the water to cool off and relax, the risk of deaths and injury from drowning rises,” A/Prof Owler said.
“The AMA is appealing to Australians to abstain from alcohol and look out for loved ones when having fun in the water this summer.
“Doctors do not want to be seeing deaths or injuries from water recreation misadventure this year.”
A/Prof Owler said that more than 290 Australians drowned in 2012/13, and a number of survivors sustained permanent brain damage from their near-drowning incident.
“Alcohol was involved in 41 per cent of drownings of Australians aged 15-29 years,” A/Prof Owler said.
“Too many people are using alcohol when taking part in, or supervising, water activities – and the mix is deadly,”
“Alcohol impairs judgement, coordination, reaction time, and increases risk taking behaviours.
“Children are particularly vulnerable around both large and small bodies of water, and require a sober adult to watch them closely.
“Of the 153 children aged one to four hospitalised for near-drowning, 90 resulted from swimming pools.
“Blow-up and collapsible pools are not fenced, but pose the same risks of drowning as inbuilt pools. Close supervision and draining after use reduce the risk.” “Infants and children can drown in as little as 5cm of water.
“A staggering 75 per cent of infant drownings occur in the bathtub.
“Too many Australians are meeting tragedy in the water when they are supposed to be having a relaxed time with family and friends.”
Source: Australian Medical Association (AMA)