James G. Wigmore, Forensic Toxicologist, Speaker, Author

With all the nice warm weather, alcohol and water start to become the go to “mix” for thesummer. The sun-filled skies and deep blue hue of our many lakes makes for an irresistible combination. Well intending individuals head to the water for fun filled aquatic activities and, unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption which can result in an increased risk of drowning.  Typically, the alcohol intoxicated drowning victim either sinks immediately or swims only a short distance (WOA60401-3).  This may be due to the effect of alcohol on the inner ear in which the intoxicated person cannot distinguish up from down, increased heat loss (or hypothermia) due to the vasodilation effect of alcohol and incoordination caused by alcohol intoxication which makes swimming movements inefficient, energy demanding and reduces endurance.

Alcohol also makes shallow diving more difficult and dangerous (WOA60404), which is of great importance at pool parties (WOA60411).

Finally, there is an increased risk of dying while boating with increasing blood alcohol concentration, which increases to 37X at BACs of 0.150 g/100mL or greater (WOA60408).

So while, physically, alcohol mixes very well with water, it doesn’t apply for water safety.  One old English proverbs sums it up by stating “Bacchus hath drowned more men than Neptune”.