Australian men are being warned not to drink and swim as new data revealed most people who consumed alcohol drowned when they accidentally fell into the water.
Figures show one in five men aged 25-44 who drowned during the past decade were over the legal alcohol limit.
Males accounted for 79 per cent of drownings across Australia in the 10 years until June 30, with 2188 men losing their lives on waterways.
Men aged 25 to 44 who take risks and overestimate their abilities are at greatest risk, data from the Royal Life Saving Society reveals.
In the past decade, almost a third of drownings in men in that age group were at unpatrolled inland waterways – such as rivers and creeks – rather than in the ocean.
More than 40 per cent of the inland deaths happened during summer and alcohol was involved in 36 per cent of the drownings.
Sunshine Coast surf lifesavers have warned the region could face its most hazardous season of rescues and fatalities with an influx of tourists over the summer stretching their limits.
Volunteers and lifeguards are bracing for what looms as their greatest test as the holiday season officially begins for state school students Thursday.
Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr said alcohol consumption around waterways was a major concern.
“Alcohol consumption in, on and around waterways increases risk-taking behaviour, reduces coordination and impairs judgment, and too many Australian men are drowning as a result,” Mr Scarr said.
“Men taking risks and overestimating their abilities continues to be our greatest challenge,” he said.
“Males are over-represented in drowning statistics, especially men aged 25 to 44 years; in the past year, over 90 per cent of those who drowned in this age group were males.”
Mr Scarr warned revellers heading into the summer festive season to have fun but stay safe.
“None of us is invincible,” he said.
“So, as we head into the summer break, our message to men is ‘make the right call’ and look out for each other while holidaying, camping and boating on our waterways.
“Have fun but stay safe. Swim sober, wear a lifejacket and don’t go alone. Know your limitations, and don’t take risks. Don’t be a statistic.”