With spring break around the corner, let’s talk about a few things you can do to maximize your ability to have a fun and safe time. And it’s not a bad idea for a few safety refreshers with other spring-themed celebrations on the horizon as well. 

We checked in with a few TriHealth practitioners at Student Health Services to get their tips on how students can enjoy these spring activities safely. 

Stay Hydrated

If you’re headed to warmer climates, it’s important to drink at least 64 oz of water per day, according to our TriHealth practitioners, and especially if you’re hanging out in the sun. Pay attention to signs of dehydration. Start with the most basic and overlooked symptom: thirst. Other signs of dehydration include fatigue, dry cough, flushed skin, light-headedness, and dark-colored urine. 

Drink more water and sports drinks for good hydration sources. Caffeine, alcohol, and hot tubs can all contribute to dehydration.

Make Safe and Smart Decisions about Alcohol

Alcohol may be a part of your plans. If it is, you should also have a plan to drink in a legal, low-risk way. Spread your drinks out over time and drink water in between drinks to avoid dehydration. Stick to closed, pre-packaged drinks and try to always get your own drinks. Some mixed drinks can contain three or four (or more) shots of alcohol, which makes it difficult to keep track of how much you’ve had. 

And have you ever heard of “Situational Tolerance”? This 3-minute video does a great job of explaining how drinking the same number of drinks in a new place can make you much more intoxicated than your regular spots for drinking.

Pack Valuables in Your Carry On

If you’re checking a suitcase on a plane, it is best to keep any items worth of value on you at all times when traveling. Things can happen; suitcases get lost, put on the wrong plane, and mixed up. Having your wallet, jewelry, extra cash, and electronics with you as a precautionary measure allows you to know where they are at all times.

Wear Sunscreen

Traveling to warm places for spring break means spending lots of time in the sun. Bring sunscreen with you… and wear it!

When shopping for a sunscreen, make sure that it has UVA and UVB protection (these sunscreens are called “broad spectrum”). UVA rays cause risk for skin cancer and UVB rays cause sunburn and skin damage, and it is important to have coverage from both. Look for sunscreens that have an SPF higher than 30; this will give you a greater level of protection. Our practitioner friends advise that you should apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to soak in. Reapply every two hours, especially if you are in the water.

Watch Sun Exposure

Aside from using a protective sunscreen, you should also limit direct sun exposure between noon and 2 p.m. This two hour window is the time when you are most likely to get that uncomfortable sunburn we try to avoid. 

You can also minimize direct effects of the heat by wearing lighter colored clothing that does not absorb as much of the heat. 

Use Caution When Swimming

Whether your vacation spot has a pool or an ocean, swim with caution. Avoid swimming alone. It’s best to have someone with you, especially in an open body of water. Don’t dive into bodies of water you are unfamiliar with or that are shallow. Regardless of how good of a swimmer you are, there could be debris or it might be too shallow for a dive. 

And yes, try to avoid drinking and swimming. Drinking can impair your coordination and ability to properly swim.

Use the Buddy System

If you are traveling to an unfamiliar location, avoid exploring alone. Turn on your phone’s location sharing with friends and family in case you get separated from your group.  

Watch out for yourself AND for your friends. Stick together, and consider creating a code word to let them know you are uncomfortable and ready to leave a situation. 

Whatever your plans over the next couple of weeks, we hope you take these tips into consideration. Have fun, and be safe!

Kaitlin Valdick | Class of 2024