Safety first, partying second

Robert Checkal

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Spring break: a stigma, the week of exciting experiences for which college students everywhere are preparing. Some are using it as a relaxing escape, while others are voyaging out into the world to experience something fresh and unique. Flashbacks to ‘MTV’s Spring Break’ specials on the beach with drunken college kids are a prominent vision of the ultimate spring break experience.

No matter which spring break scenario comes to mind, the only stigma spring break seems to lack is safety, which is just as important as the best hangouts, greatest adventures and infinite amounts of fun.

Road trip

If America has learned anything from the Boy Scouts, it’s probably to “be prepared.” Being prepared is exactly what Abram Seaman, senior electronic media production major, is doing before his road trip to Chicago, where he’ll be playing a show with Kent State alumna Ashley Brooke Toussant on Monday.

To prepare for his road trip, Seaman said he bought a new car battery and plans to take his GPS, get an oil change and pack bottled water. Seaman said he’ll use the buddy system and travel with his brother, who is also playing in the show.

Georgene Armstrong, a travel agent for AAA in Ravenna, highly recommends the buddy system when traveling, especially in large cities.

“Be cautious, stay together,” Armstrong said. “Ask someone at the hotel lobby if you’re unsure of the area. Watch who you talk to, don’t be too friendly.”

Instead of packing food or snacks for the road, the brothers plan on stopping along the way to grab food, which Armstrong said may pose unseen threats.

“If stopping at a roadside rest, always stay together and lock your doors,” Armstrong said. “Don’t let your gas tank get too low because you never know how far the next gas station will be.”

Fun in the sun

Sophomore architecture major Faye Pakish is heading down to Boca Raton, Fla., with a couple of friends and a rental car. Before the drive, Pakish and her friends plan to stop at Wal-Mart to grab anything they might need.

While Pakish’s safety plans for the beach include the buddy system, Armstrong also stresses planning for sun protection by keeping hydrated and using sunscreen.

“Even though you think you tan well, you can burn,” Armstrong said, adding that in locations closer to the equator, the sun produces higher levels of UV radiation.

Yet, Pakish said she doesn’t believe in sunscreen, and she doesn’t mind leaving her personal items unattended, either.

“I’m pretty ‘free love’ about my personal belongings,” she said. “I would leave my purse. I’m not worried about it.”

Though some may say Pakish’s beach paradise break doesn’t include the most efficient safety planning strategy, she mentioned multiple options for housing.

“My friend knows a couple of people so we’re going to just call one of them and whoever answers their phone first we’re staying with,” Pakish said.

Staying with friends is one of the cheapest ways to vacation on a budget, but some people won’t need to stay with anyone at all.

Roughing it in the outdoors

Junior German major Bailey Webster is planning a trip to go camping in the Appalachian Mountains. Webster is also driving and plans to purchase a spare tire and get an oil change for the drive. He also plans on bringing a carload of people and all of his own food and water for the trip.

According to the Student Travel Safety Guide by, it’s also a good idea to have tools, a cell phone, a first aid kit, a flashlight and a fire extinguisher.

During his trip, Webster plans to find somewhere to canoe, fish and hike. He also plans on bringing his guitar to sing some campfire songs. He may bring homework, but his main focus is having a good time with his friends.

No matter what your personal spring break agenda includes, planning for the possibility of unfortunate events can make the difference between having the time of your life or losing out in the worst of ways. Use common sense, be safe and as the Boy Scout brothers’ mantra goes, “Be prepared.”

Contact features reporter Robert Checkal at [email protected].

To the roadies:

– Be sure to check all belts, hoses and tires on the car.

– Make sure you have enough gas and enough cash for tolls.

– Let your family and trusted friends know when you are leaving, when you’ll get back and how you are getting there and back.

To the beach bums:

– Wallets, purses, keys, clothes, backpacks, iPods and surfboards are the types of things thieves like to steal. Keep your keys in a zipper pouch, on a lanyard around your neck or safety pin them. Don’t leave your keys in or around your vehicle.

– Stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the sun’s rays – between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

– Re-apply sunscreen every couple of hours and immediately after swimming and sweating. Pay attention to the face, nose, ears and shoulders – areas most likely to burn.

– Drink plenty of water, non-carbonated and non-alcoholic drinks, even if you are not thirsty.

To the drinkers:

– Carry a brochure for your hotel so that if you get lost, drunk or both, someone can help get you there.

– Have a designated driver or use public transportation.

– A fake ID is not worth it. Most popular vacation areas in the U.S. have undercover sting operations to catch fake IDs.

– Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, like water or juice, to stay hydrated and to deter dehydration and those really bad hangovers.

– Never leave your beverage unattended, and never take drinks from strangers. Since some “date rape” drugs are odorless, often colorless and tasteless, they can get slipped into drinks easily and go unnoticed. Only accept drinks from bartenders or waiters, and try to watch them pouring.

– Clouded judgments made from excessive drinking may lead to public intoxication, disturbing the peace, public indecency, vandalism, sexual assault, DUI charges or accidental drowning.

ource: Student travel safety guide by