Men are more likely to drown in boating incidents. How do we stop this?

A study by Dr Amy Peden, the Principal investigator and National Manager of Research and Policy at Royal Life Saving Australia found that 20 per cent of unintentional fatal drownings in Australia resulted from watercraft incidents. Those found to be most at risk were men.


Dr Peden’s study was conducted with researchers from Curtin and Griffith Universities. Today, we’re delving into her findings, and what you can do to stay safe on the water.


Who is most at risk?

The 2018 Study reviewed published literature from around the world, collating data on when people were likely to wear a lifejacket, and the conditions that made this less likely. According to Dr Peden, males were overrepresented in drowning-related fatalities.


“We found that being adult and male, confident of your swimming ability and using alcohol were, together and separately, discouraging lifejacket use,” she said.

“Also the cost, discomfort and lack of availability of life jackets in some areas were also factors.”


When it came to decreased life jacket use, alcohol was found to be a major factor.


“It’s concerning, as the involvement of alcohol increases the risk of an accident and the absence of a lifejacket doubles the risk of a fatal outcome,” Dr Peden said.


In one particular US study, Dr Peden found that many people gave lifejackets a lower priority after consuming alcohol.


Children least likely to drown in boating accidents

According to Dr Peden there were a few groups more likely to wear a lifejacket, which resulted in fewer drownings.


“Children, younger people and women tend to wear lifejackets more,” Dr Peden said.

“Children, especially, rarely feature in boating-related drowning fatalities.”


The kind of boat a person is operating has an impact on data too. Dr Peden said that individuals in unmotorised boats and small boats tend to wear lifejackets more. As well as people who are fishing and water-skiing.


What’s the takeaway?

Wear. A. Lifejacket.


When Victoria made lifejackets compulsory in 2005, the state saw significantly fewer boating-related drownings than before the regulations were in force. Now, many states have compulsory lifejacket laws (find them here).


Wearing a lifejacket could save your life. We all knew this anecdotally, but now, we cannot ignore the research.


Finding the right lifejacket

The lifejacket you wear should match the kind of boating activity you engage in. And, just like your boat, your lifejackets should be well-maintained.


Lifejackets are categorised into levels. The higher the level or rating, the higher the level of buoyancy, once inflated. Most adult lifejackets sit at 150+, which means they are designed to support an adult’s head in a face-up position above the water, even if they are unconscious.


We recommend choosing a highly rated lifejacket when you’re out on the water. If you want assistance with choosing the right lifejacket for your needs, has an easy-to-use guide.


Register your lifejacket also allows you to register your lifejackets, so you receive email reminders about servicing, as well as maintenance tips. It’s easy to sign up, and is a simple way to make sure your lifejackets are well-maintained.


Need cover?

If you need cover for your boat we can help. Our marine underwriters can supply you with an obligation-free quote, based on your needs. We have been covering recreational boats, PWDs, marine businesses and boating trailers and equipment for Aussie boaters for decades.


If you’d like a free quote, please get in touch. And stay safe out there!

man wearing white shorts holding black backpack