Despite downturns in the economy, many people still plan to hit the road during the month of March, as schools and universities across the country dismiss for Spring Break. And in recent surveys, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach ranked among the top ten most popular destinations for Spring Break.
Unfortunately, a tragic car accident in Ohio serves as a reminder that Spring Break fun can turn deadly. With thousands of young people traveling up and down the Atlantic coast in coming weeks, the government and consumer groups alike urge caution in order to keep Spring Break vacations safe as well as memorable.
While many tips are targeted at those traveling out of the country, and include advice about avoiding ice and sliced produce, the American College of Emergency Physicians offers tips and warnings about sun exposure, safe sex and alcohol use. There are some hidden dangers that travelers may not immediately consider, such as the toll of exhaustion, sun exposure, dehydration, and driving for long periods of time or at odd hours. These risks can not only endanger vacationers, but those on the roads and beaches with them. Many young people may not consider that a few hours’ sleep deprivation can impair driving skills as much as alcohol or drugs.
In one AAA survey, nine out of 10 police officers said that they had stopped people for drunk driving behaviors and instead found a sleepy driver behind the wheel. Many groups emphasize the importance of getting enough sleep not just for driving safety, but also because of the toll lack of sleep takes on a person’s ability to make smart decisions. An exhausted, sleep-deprived young adult may not be able to clearly think through the consequences of risky behavior.
In addition to getting adequate sleep, doctors recommend vacationers drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, take frequent breaks from physical activities, wear sunscreen and re-apply it frequently. Sun-exposure, dehydration and the effects of binge drinking are among the most likely causes of ER visits during Spring Break.
Parents, students and community members should pass along safe vacationing tips to anyone going on a Spring Break vacation. Those living near Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head or other Spring Break hot-spots should be especially watchful while driving or enjoying the outdoors in the coming weeks, keeping an eye out for any Spring Breakers or others who may be carrying the fun a bit too far.