22 Tips for a Safer Spring Break

Contributor:  Randall Winter ’12, Public and Community Health Major, Center for Health and Wellbeing Intern

It’s about that time of year again – Spring Break! Before you leave College Park for the week to hit up the beach or some other summery destination, keep these strategies in mind to stay safe this year. We want to see you back on campus happy and healthy and ready to tackle the second half of the semester.

Want to have a safer spring break? There’s an app for that! Students played games such as “Protect Your Tweet” and “Don’t be an Angry Drunk Bird” at a Health Center event on Hornbake Plaza where they picked up information to help them stay safe over break.

On the Road …

If you are driving to your destination, don’t forget to load up your mp3 players with great road-trip playlists!  But don’t get too caught up with rocking out and forget the rules of the road.

  • Make sure all passengers in your car are buckled up.
  • Alternate drivers to avoid fatigue.  If the driver is feeling sleepy, pull over and grab some refreshments or take a stretch break, and switch up who is at the wheel.
  • Double check that all riders have their driver’s license on them and the car’s registration is current.

At the hotel …

Although you might be itching to throw your stuff down and hit the beach, remember a couple things when you check into your hotel:

  • Consider requesting a room above the first floor as they are the easiest to break into.
  • Utilize the safes (if they are provided) to store all of your valuables (i.e. passport, ID, credit cards, cash, jewelry, etc.).
  • Keep all doors and sliding doors locked and do not let anyone you do not know into your room.
  • Take note of where the nearest fire exit is located in case an emergency occurs in the building.

Getting cash out …

There will come a point where you will probably need cash – to buy souvenirs for your parents, of course!  If you need to use an ATM, be aware that tourists are often targeted for a crime of opportunity.

  • Always go in groups to an ATM and have your friends watch your back.
  • Try to use the ATM during the day time.
  • When you approach the ATM machine, do a complete 360, looking completely around to make sure no one is hanging around that shouldn’t be.
  • Always be on the lookout and if your gut is telling you something isn’t quite right, go to another ATM!

If you’re drinking …

We know you’re probably not bringing that Calculus book with you… So if you choose to drink, here are some simple suggestions to help you stay safe and healthy.

  • Pace yourself and limit how much you drink. You may try alternating a glass of water in between every alcoholic beverage to stay hydrated and not drink too much.
  • Avoid drinking too many sweet, sugary mixed drinks. It is often difficult to taste the alcohol in these drinks and therefore hard to estimate how much you have consumed.
  • Always have a designated driver determined before you go out or have an alternate form of transportation available.  Never drink and drive.
  • Save calories and stay safer by opting for a non-alcoholic alternative sometimes.

On the beach …

  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration from long days in the sun. If you start feeling light headed, get under some shade or go inside and relax for a while.
  • Wear that SPF. Sunburn could seriously ruin your spring break.  Whenever you are out in the sun, use at least an SPF 15, or stronger if you’re in a tropical location.  No one wants to look like a lobster and a bad sunburn increases your chance of developing skin cancer later in life.
  • Pay attention to water safety advisories and stay out of the ocean if the waves are high and choppy or there is increased risk of rip tides. Swim near a lifeguard when possible.

In the hot tub …

  • Don’t make the hot tub a shot tub.  Drinking in the hot tub might seem like fun idea, but it is actually quite dangerous.  The effects of alcohol are felt sooner and stronger when you drink in a hot tub.  Make the hot tub a no-drink zone.

At a party …

  • Go out with your friends, and go home with your friends. Look out for one another. If a friend is intoxicated, ensure they get them home safely.
  • Be on the lookout for predatory or “date rape” drugs.  Symptoms can include extreme wooziness, confusion, difficulty standing, and slurring speech. If you notice them in yourself or a friend, get medical attention immediately.  You might miss the rest of the night out, but you could save a life.

In bed …

  • Don’t feel pressured. Hooking up should never be an expectation. If  you’re not comfortable, say no and enforce your boundaries.
  • Always use protection. STD’s and pregnancy rates statistically increase during spring break. If you do plan to have sex, be sure to pack and use condoms or another form of effective birth control.

In addition to staying safe this Spring Break and protecting your physical wellness, take this time to enhance your sense of emotional and social wellness, too. Whether you’re headed out of town or will be enjoying time with family and friends at home, allow yourself to re-charge your batteries and relieve some stress that may have built up over the last few months.

Share with us! What are your plans for Spring Break? Do you have any safety tips of your own? How do you plan to take care of your physical and emotional wellness away from UMD?

For more resources on staying safe on Spring Break, visit www.safespringbreak.org and these suggestions from the CDC.

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