You’d better think twice before taking booze to the beach or out on a boat. Alcohol increases the risk of injury and death in and on the water, safety experts warn.
For example, alcohol is a factor in up to 70 percent of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Drinking impairs judgment and makes people more likely to take risks, a dangerous combination for swimmers, the institute noted.
Even experienced swimmers may go farther out than they should and not be able to make it back to shore, or they may not notice how cold they’re getting and develop hypothermia.
Diving after drinking is especially dangerous, according to the NIAAA.
Being drunk may cause divers to collide with a diving board or to dive where the water is too shallow, the institute noted in a news release.
In addition, alcohol can lead surfers to become overconfident and try to ride a wave beyond their abilities.
And drinking while boating presents another set of challenges.
NIAAA-funded research shows that alcohol may play a role in 60 percent of boating deaths, including falling overboard.
Also, a boat operator who’s had four to five drinks is 16 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than one who hasn’t had any alcohol.
Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, reaction time and the ability to deal with problems, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Booze also increases fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
Drinking can trip up passengers as well.
Drunk boat passengers are at increased risk of slipping on decks, falling overboard and having accidents at the dock, the safety experts warned.
The American Red Cross offers water safety tips.