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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Amazing Spring Break Begins with Safety

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Many high school and college students have plans made and are anxiously awaiting the last day of school before a “much needed” break. For high school seniors, it might be breaking away from winter as early as next week; for most college students, it will be spring break in two weeks.

spring break pic

While spring (or winter) break is a great time for students to relax and enjoy time away from the books, it has also become notorious for traveling to party spots and engaging in risky behaviors. That said, as hundreds of thousands of teenagers travel to a warm destination here are some tips help you make safe choices.

On the road…

  1. Before driving to your destination, have your car checked out by a mechanic to ensure it can make a long trip.
  2. Make sure everyone has a valid driver’s license and the vehicle registration is in the car before driving off.
  3. Always keep your car doors locked and your windows up high enough that no one can reach in.
  4. Drive on heavily-traveled highways and avoid making your way too far off of the interstate. Don’t pick up hitchhikers or stop for anyone on the side of the road.
  5. Follow traffic laws and use common sense. The driver and all passengers should buckle their seat belts.
  6. Take turns driving; do not drive when exhausted or feeling sleepy.
  7. Passengers should avoid distracting the driver from keeping his/her eyes on the road and his/her hands on the wheel.
  8. No driver should use a cell phone for talking or texting while driving. Keep your eyes on the road, and keep your hands on the wheel. Driving isn’t the time to jamming to dance music.
  9. If you have car trouble, especially if you are driving alone, stay in your car with your doors and windows locked and call police for assistance. Be wary of individuals who stop to help.
  10. Do not allow anyone in the car to drink alcohol. Many states have open container laws that prohibit any person in a car from drinking alcohol.

In the hotel…

  1. Avoid first-floor hotel rooms. They are easier to break into while rooms above the sixth floor may be inaccessible to fire ladders.
  2. Keep doors and sliding doors locked, and don’t let anyone into your room unless you can trust them.
  3. Make a mental note of where the nearest fire exits and stairwells are located in case you need to evacuate.

If drinking…

  1. Be responsible. Pace yourself if you choose to drink. Drink no more than one drink per hour and alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Eat a real meal before drinking and snack throughout the time you are drinking.
  2. Be aware of alcohol poisoning. According to a University of Wisconsin study, 75 percent of college males and 43 percent of females reported being intoxicated on a daily basis during spring break.
  3. Always keep an eye on your drink. If your drink is out of sight for even a moment, throw it out and get a new one.
  4. Keep your hand over your cup or your thumb over the top of your bottle. Date rape drugs, such as GHB and Rohypnol, could be placed in your drink while you are distracted to facilitate rape or other crimes.
  5. Never drink and drive. Designate a non-drinking driver or plan for public transportation.
  6. Don’t drink or do drugs and then get into a hot tub. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure to dangerous levels. The effects of alcohol are felt sooner and stronger in a hot tub, which can lead to unconsciousness and drowning.

At the beach or pool…

  1. Swimming without a lifeguard puts you at risk, especially in the ocean. Stay in designated swim areas and try to swim with others. Even experienced swimmers can become caught in the undertow.
  2. Sun can maximize the effects of alcohol so keep this in mind if you party on the beach.
  3. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  4. If you start feeling faint or light headed, get shade and water immediately.
  5. Avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the sun’s rays and remember you can burn even when it’s cloudy.
  6. Use sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF 15 to avoid sunburn.
  7. Know the flag system for water safety:
  • Red Flag: Stay out of the water because of strong undertow and riptides.
  • Yellow Flag: Use CAUTION in the water. There are some undertow and riptides possible.
  • Blue Flag: Calm water. Swim safely.

At the ATM…

  1. Try to use an ATM in your hotel.
  2. If you must use an outdoor ATM, go during daylight hours and with a friend.
  3. When you approach the ATM, look completely around for anyone suspicious.
  4. Cover the keypad as you punch in your pin number.

Hooking up…

  1. Don’t believe the hype; not everyone is having a spring break fling. If you do choose to have sex, make sure it’s protected.
  2. Stock up on protection before you leave home so you never find yourself in a compromised situation.
  3. Do not let anyone talk you into something you are not comfortable doing. If you do not plan to have sex, do not put yourself in positions where you are alone with someone who, because of the setting, may get the wrong idea.
  4. If you choose to “hook up,” be careful of who it’s with. Spring break is a great time for would-be assailants to prey on unsuspecting, drinking college students.
  5. Make sure your friends see the person, know his/her name, and where you are going.
  6. Create a code word to let your friends know when you are uncomfortable and need them to intervene.
  7. Trust your instincts. If it feels uncomfortable, don’t do it!

Going out…

  1. Always go out with friends and home with friends. Establish a place to meet in advance if you get separated.
  2. Always look out for friends who are too intoxicated to be out.
  3. Be aware of signs of predatory drugs: extreme wooziness, confusion, difficulty standing and slurring speech.

On social media…

  1. Do not share too much personal information and location on social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc. It could endanger your safety.
  2. Adjust your privacy settings and use your best judgment when checking in on Facebook and Foursquare.

When leaving the country…

  1. You will need a passport, so plan accordingly if you do not have one. You might also need a Visa depending on your destination.
  2. Do your homework in advance, keeping in mind you are subject to the laws of the country you visit. Do not make a fun spring break turn into a hefty fine to be sprung for jail.

Make spring break 2015 (or winter, in some cases) memorable and fun, but be observant and sensible at all times and put safety first.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

1 Comment

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  1. Bob Pratt says:
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    Good article.
    Many beaches use a green flag to designate safer water and a blue flag for the presence of dangerous marine life. Please consider using the term “rip current” rather than “undertow” or “riptide”.
    Water safety professionals agree that the neither undertow nor riptide should be used because they are confusing.
    Also consider adding a piece about lifejacket use. Many boating and kayaking fatalities can be avoided by wearing a lifejacket and not just storing it on board.