Spring break calls for safety measures

Katie Chilson

Popular spring break destinations like Miami and Cancun are filled with energy and the possibility of a great vacation for students, but they also have the possibility of dangerous and harmful situations. 

Students use spring break as a time to relax and take their mind off of school, but staying safe on these adventures still needs to be a priority.

For spring break 2014, Austin Ward, an applied communications and photo illustration major, and his friends traveled to Panama. Their break included fun days at the beach, shopping, good food and parties. It was the perfect spring break destination. 

Spring break safety tips

  • If you’re driving to your spring break location, buckle your seat belt and drive safely.
  • Keep your hotel door locked at all times and don’t let anyone into the room that you don’t trust. Be smart when it comes to sharing taxis, and don’t tell strangers where you’re staying.
  • Be responsible when drinking and know your limits. Be aware of alcohol poisoning, and never drink and drive.
  • Drinking on the beach under the hot sun can result in severe sunburn and bad hangovers. Sun can maximize the effects of alcohol.
  • If drinking and swimming, be safe or don’t swim at all. Make sure there is a lifeguard around.
  • Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. The effects of alcohol are stronger in a hot tub and can lead to unconsciousness and drowning.
  • If you go somewhere with a friend, leave with that friend.
  • Make sure everyone has a charged cell phone and each other’s numbers.
  • Park and walk in well-lit areas. Try not to travel outside tourist locations.
  • Do research on where you’re going. Emergency numbers aren’t universal; 911 in America is 080 in Mexico.
  • Make a plan with your friends: A buddy system, meeting spot and transportation are things you need to know before going out.
  • Check in with family back home so they know you’re safe.

Although Ward’s spring break was a success, he saw many other partygoers who didn’t have the safe and fun time he did. 

 “I saw a girl who passed out from drinking so much,” Ward said. “I didn’t know what was happening to her or what to do.” 

Alcohol poisoning can occur when too much alcohol is consumed in a short amount of time. It should never be overlooked, and students should be aware of the symptoms before spring break parties.    

Students may binge drink over spring break, which increases the risk of alcohol poisoning. Drinking too much can affect breathing, heart rate, body temperature and gag reflexes and can lead to coma or death.

Alcohol poisoning isn’t the only thing students should be aware of during spring break. When drinking, students need to be aware of what they’re drinking, where they got the drink and who made the drink. 

Rohypnol, also known as roofies or the date rape drug, is commonly misused. People can slip this into a drink, which causes paralysis when ingested.  

Students should never take an open container from a stranger or leave their cup unattended to avoid situations such as this.

Andrianna Hauck, a senior nutrition major, went to Daytona, Florida last spring break where she saw the effects of roofies.

“We were at a club when I saw a girl get carried out,” Hauck said. “Someone said she got roofied, and she had to get rushed to the hospital. Seeing something like that is really scary and makes you think more about your own actions.”

Students also need to know what the area they are visiting is like. Panama has high crime, theft and kidnapping rates. Human trafficking is also an issue in the United States.    

The Department of Justice has named the top 20 human trafficking areas in the United States. This list includes Miami and Tampa, which are popular spring break locations. 

Community Resource Officer Michquel Penn shared many tips to keep in mind when traveling for spring break. These range from keeping your hotel door locked to doing research when visiting a new or out-of-country destination. 

Spring break allows students to take a quick vacation to recharge for the end of the semester. Spring break vacations should be a fun getaway, but don’t forget to stay safe. 

 Contact Kate Chilson at [email protected].