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Alcohol and water (activity) do not mix

27 Dec 2012

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, today warned Australians to be careful and cautious when engaged in water recreation activities over the holiday period, especially when alcohol is involved.

Dr Hambleton said that hospital emergency departments see a lot of people who are victims of accidents from water-related activities, often when people under the influence of alcohol are involved.

“Summer is a great time to get into the water – beaches, rivers, pools, waterslides, dams and creeks and lakes,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Whether it is surfing, bodysurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, diving, boating, or swimming laps, there is always an element of danger if people are not careful.

“That element of danger is multiplied if somebody directly or indirectly involved in that activity has been drinking.

“Alcohol and water do not mix in this scenario.

“Every summer, there are tragic instances where people are seriously injured and even killed in situations involving water and alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol severely impacts on judgement and leads to poor decision making.

“To make things worse, alcohol marketing over summer often involves fun, water-related imagery and sometimes larrikinism.

“Games that involve holding your breath underwater for long periods might seem fun, but can actually lead to drowning, including when the participants are inebriated. There was a tragic example of this during Schoolies Week this year.

“Activities such as diving, surfing, swimming or jumping into bodies of water can result in spinal cord injuries, which may lead to lengthy hospital stays or permanent disability.”

In 2007-08, there were 362 cases of spinal cord injury, with 285 of these due to trauma. These accidents occur most frequently in the 15-24 years age group.

Transport related accidents (46 per cent) and falls (28 per cent) accounted for three quarters of the 285 cases of traumatic spinal cord injury in this period.


27 December 2012

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
Kirsty Waterford 02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 27 Dec 2012