Spring break is a time to kick back and have fun, but it’s important to be on guard against injuries and illness.
Many on break — especially teens and 20-somethings — may be tempted to take unusual risks. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that wearing a seat belt, life vest and other appropriate safety gear is always important — even on vacation.
The CDC reports that more Americans under age 30 die of accidental injuries than any other cause of death. With that sobering statistic in mind, they offer the following tips for a safe and healthy spring break:
- Limit alcohol. If you plan on drinking, don’t overdo it. Alcohol can affect your judgment and behavior. And drinking and driving can be a deadly mistake. Car accidents involving alcohol kill someone every 31 minutes.
- Ease into activities. It’s a good idea to be active on vacation and try new things, like dancing, swimming or volleyball. If you’ve been inactive during the winter, however, you may be at greater risk for injuries. Start new activities gradually.
- Plan ahead. Consider your destination. Be sure to get any necessary vaccinations or medications before you leave.
- Protect yourself. Not having sex is the only sure way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy. Being in an exclusive relationship with one partner also reduces STD risk. If you do have sex, it’s important to use condoms. Women are at greater risk than men for sexual assault. Avoid people or situations that put you in jeopardy.
- Take care of your eyes. Pack an extra supply of contact lenses and a pair of eyeglasses. Contacts should be removed before swimming and at bedtime to prevent infection.
- Remember water safety. Everyone should know how to swim, but even expert swimmers should wear a life vest while boating. Avoid alcohol while boating and take a safety course.
- Be mindful of the sun. Sunshine may feel good after weeks in the cold but overexposure to harmful UV rays can cause sunburn, premature aging and increase skin cancer risk. Apply sunscreen with a protection factor of at least SPF 15 and wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays.
- Eat right. Enjoy the local fare, but don’t forget to include some healthy foods while on vacation. Be sure to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Don’t smoke. Whether you’re home or away, avoid cigarettes, including electronic cigarettes, and secondhand smoke.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers more spring break safety tips.