The Perils of Spring Break

Some college student’s spring breaks have come and gone. For some, it’s just around the corner. The safety of spring break drinkingchildren during a spring break trip is a concern for many parents. Spring breakers are basking in the freedom of vacation away from parents and there seems to be a never-ending flow of alcohol. This combination can be injurious and deadly. With four college aged grandchildren, I share that concern. Being injured in a strange place, away from home and the comfort and care of parents can be frightening for a young adult. Here is some information I found regarding spring break safety that you can pass on to your children.

Over-service of alcohol: This is a huge. When college aged students go on a spring break trip, you know alcohol will more than likely be consumed – and a lot of it. Most states have dram shop laws, which allow licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores to be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication.

Social host liability: Similar to dram shop laws, if an adult hosts a parties and alcohol is consumed by minors and as a result, injury or death occur, the host of the party may be held responsible. Injuries in the case of social host and dram shop laws don’t have to be traffic related. This also includes acts of violence.

Traffic accidents: Between the last week of February and the first week of April, a considerably higher number of traffic fatalities occur in popular spring break destinations compared to other locations in the same states and at other times of the year. Sometimes, it’s as dangerous to walk home. With an elevated amount of negligent driving this time of year, there is also risk of getting struck by a car as a pedestrian. It’s best to leave the car behind, stay off your feet and hail a cab or use Uber or Lyft for a safe ride back to the hotel.

Alcohol related injuries: Binge drinking can come with a price. We’ve all read stories about young adults dying from alcohol poisoning. Drinking too much can also turn any normal activity into a dangerous one, such as a boating, swimming, sitting in a hot tub or standing on a balcony.  Also, binge drinking has also resulted in a number of sexual assaults.

What is the best way to protect your child? If your child is going on a spring break trip, make sure you educate them on the dangers of binge drinking. Tell them to stay in groups with people they know and never leave a party or bar with strangers. Ensure they understand the risks of drinking and driving or getting in the car with someone intoxicated. Perhaps even give them access to your Uber account for a free ride back to their hotel. The best course of action is to keep them from going on a spring break vacation. Of course, that is easier said than done.

National Safe Boating Week

“Alcohol is the leading factor in boating deaths.”

 

Boating life jacketIt’s National Safe Boating Week, and with the weather warming up, many of you taking to the waters to ski, fish, or just float about. According to the American Boating Association, since 1997, there has been a decrease in accidents and injuries, though the death rate tends to rise and fall.  Many  of these accidents are avoidable.

Operator inattention, inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed and alcohol use were the top five reasons for boating accidents in 2015. Alcohol is the leading factor in boating deaths.

Last year, the Coast Guard reported 4,158 accidents, 2,613 injuries and 626 deaths related to boating. Where cause of death was known, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket. Twelve children (55%) died from drowning. Only two of those children who drowned were wearing a life jacket; half of the remaining ten children who were not wearing a life jacket were not required to do so under State law. This is probably why life jackets are a top priority of National Safe Boating Week this year.

The National Safe Boating Council believes that the simplest way to stay alive while boating is to wear a life jacket. Their campaign, known as “Wear It!” – is a yearlong effort to encourage boating safety and the importance of always wearing a life jacket when out on the water. The campaign is also designed to remind boaters to engage in responsible boating. Take a safety course, don’t boat under the influence, maintain proper speeds, and know navigational rules.

Here are some other steps to take to prevent  accidents, injuries and deaths:

  1. Check the Weather Forecast: Always know weather conditions before you disembark. If you notice darkening clouds, rough changing winds or sudden drops in temperature, you may want to play it safe and get out of the water.
  2. Follow a Pre-Launch Checklist: Anything could happen out on the water. Be prepared. The Discover Boating website has a ready-made, printable Pre-Departure Checklist  to help ensure no boating safety rule or precaution has been forgotten.
  3. Use Common Sense: Operate at safe speeds, especially in highly congested areas. Stay alert and keep clear of large vessels – their size may restrict them from stopping or turning quickly. Heed navigational aids which have been placed to ensure your safety.
  4. Have Two Captains: If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to ensure that someone else on board knows how to drive the boat and knows the rules so he or she can get everyone else back to shore safely.
  5. Have a Plan: Always let someone know where you are going and how long you will be gone. It may also be a good idea for your float plan to include:
    1. Name, address, and phone number of trip leader
    2. Name and phone number of all passengers
    3. Boat type and registration information
    4. Trip itineraryDrinking and boating
    5. Types of communication and signal equipment on board
  6. Avoid Alcohol (and drugs): The risk of accidents is high enough. Add alcohol and the
    probability doubles. Again, it’s the leading cause of boating deaths. Enjoying drinks under the heat of the sun will exacerbate the effects of the alcohol.
  7. Learn to Swim: This seems like a given, but not everyone who gets on a boat knows how to swim. If you’re going to be around the water, you should take swimming lessons. A life jacket may save your life, but there have been instances where they haven’t. The American Red Cross and others organizations offer swimming lessons for all ages and abilities. Find one offered in your area.
  8. Take a Boating Course: If you’re doing the driving, you should be familiar with the ruled of operations. Requirements vary from state to state, so you should look for a safety course in your area. The US Coast Guard offers information about where to find classes on the website.
  9. Consider a Free Vessel Safety Check: The US Coast Guard offers a boat exam to verify that your boat is safe. A certified vessel examiner  will perform a free Vessel Safety Check (“VSC”). There and there are no consequences if you don’t pass. They will come to your boat, or you can take your boat to them, whichever you prefer.

 

For more information on safe boating:

Read the US Coast Guards entire report on the 2015 accident statistics here.

Visit the Discover Boating website to find info on:

Boating with Pets

Boating with Kids

And for a Semi-Annual Boating Maintenance Checklist

Now go out and have fun on the water – safely.