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Alcohol, Water Sports Can Be Deadly Mix

Experts urge swimmers, boaters, surfers not to drink during water activities

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

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SUNDAY, July 10, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking and water sports are highlights of summer fun for many Americans, but mixing the two can be hazardous, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism warns.

Alcohol is involved in half of all water recreation-related deaths of teens and adults, according to the NIAAA, which outlined a number of potentially dangerous scenarios:

Alcohol can impair swimmers' judgment and increase their risk-taking. For example, swimmers may go out farther than they should and be unable to make it back to shore, or they may not notice how cold they're getting and develop hypothermia.

Around the pool, inebriated divers may collide with the diving board or plunge into water that is too shallow.

Surfers who've been drinking may become over-confident and try to ride a wave that's too difficult for them.

Among boaters, alcohol can impair judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Alcohol may be involved in up to 60 percent of boating deaths, including falling overboard, the NIAAA said in a news release. A boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.1 percent is 16 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than someone with a zero blood alcohol level.

More information

The American Red Cross offers water safety tips.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, news release, July 10, 2011

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