How to stay safe over spring break (so that you have fun)

Who’s ready for spring break? Though the semester has been flying by, especially with several snow days, we could all use a breather next week. We deserve to blow off a little steam. In fact, blowing off steam can give us the energy we need for the final push of the semester. Just remember that relaxing and having fun during spring break comes with a responsibility to keep ourselves safe, and to watch out for our friends, as well.

Even if we’re not going on an MTV-inspired spring break trip, many of us will be traveling next week. Or, some of us might be staying in Raleigh. Regardless of where we’re going or what we’re doing over spring break, all of us plan on having fun next week. To ensure that we actually do have fun, we need to make smart decisions.

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Check out these tips on how to stay safe over spring break so that we blow off steam without putting our physical or mental health at risk.

With alcohol:

  • We all know that alcohol may be a part of college life.  In fact, a 2012 study found that among full-time college students, 60.3% were current drinkers, 40.1% identified as binge drinkers, and 14.4% identified as heavy drinker. So during spring break, when we have more time to relax and have fun, we need take extra precautions (Source).
  • Before going out, have your ride home planned. Drinking and driving has fatal consequences.
  • Go out in groups and with people you trust, especially if you’re in a new city. You might make this your new mantra: Go out with your friends. Go home with your friends.
  • Know the liquor laws of wherever you’re traveling. In North Carolina, a .08 blood alcohol content means that you are legally intoxicated and not allowed to drive.
  • Avoid alcohol energy drinks. They lead to “wide-awake drunkenness,” which makes you feel less drunk than you are. A study at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that students who mixed alcohol and energy drinks had double the risk of being injured, driving while intoxicated, being taken advantage of sexually or taking advantage of another sexually (Source). Stay away from the Vodka Red Bull’s.
  • Just a reminder, the legal drinking age is 21 in the States.

With sex:

  • To be safe and have fun, you MUST be able to ask for and give consent. This means that you need to ask for and receive verbal permission from your partner to engage in sexual activity with him/her. A clearly verbalized “Yes” or “No” is considered to be consent.
  • No glove no love. Use protection when having sex. To prevent STI’s and pregnancy, make sure that you or your partner wears a condom. Buy only latex or polyurethane condoms lubricated with a spermicide. Look for condoms with a reservoir tip. Check the expiration date. If you feel the condom break or slip during sex, pull out and put on a new condom.
  • You can get FREE male and condoms at the Student Health. Just head to the pharmacy to pick them up.

With the sun:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer…and the most preventable. Many of us will be in the sun a lot next week (skiing/snowboarding counts!)
  • Wear SPF 30 or more.
  • Choose self-tanner or airbrush tanning over the tanning bed
  • Protect your face with SPF lip balm, sunglasses, hats, and visor
  • Stay hydrated. The sun makes you sweat, which zaps your body of energy and fluid. Drink 6-8 glasses of water every day over spring break.
  • Check your body for moles that have changed shape or size before and after your trip. Make an appointment at Student Health if you notice a difference.

We need to blow off steam during spring break so that we return to school with the energy to finish the semester.  Making smart decisions about alcohol, sex, and sun exposure, will ensure that we stay safe while have some much-needed fun.