While spring break is a great time for students to relax and enjoy time away from the books, it has also become notorious for traveling to party spots and “letting loose.” However, it’s important to not throw all caution to the wind.
Although I am not a teenager and I am, mistakenly, not “cool,” I do know a thing or two about common sense and safety, having practiced law for over 30 years and having represented seriously injured people. I hope my readers will pass along the following safety tips to ensure your spring breakers have a memorable and fun, yet safe vacation.
On the road
- Before driving to your destination, have your car checked out by a mechanic to ensure it can make a long trip.
- Always keep your car doors locked and your windows up high enough that no one can reach in.
- Drive on heavily-traveled highways and avoid making your way too far off the interstate.
- Follow traffic laws and use common sense.
- Take turns driving; do not drive when exhausted or feeling sleepy.
- Avoid all driver distractions – texting or talking on phone, as well as passenger distractions.
- If you have car trouble, especially if you are driving alone, stay in your car with your doors and windows locked and call police for assistance.
- Do not allow anyone in the car to drink alcohol. Many states have open container laws that prohibit any person in a car from drinking alcohol.
When leaving the country
- You will need a passport, so plan accordingly if you do not have one. You might also need a Visa depending on your destination.
- Know the laws of the country you are visiting. Even as a visitor, you are subject to them.
- Be responsible. Pace yourself if you choose to drink.
- Always keep an eye on your drink. If your drink is out of sight for even a moment, throw it out.
- Keep your hand over your cup or your thumb over the top of your bottle. Date rape drugs could be placed in your drink while you are distracted.
- Designate a non-drinking driver or plan for public transportation.
- Don’t drink or do drugs and then get into a hot tub. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure to dangerous levels.
- Don’t drink in a hot tub. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.
At the beach or pool
- Stay in designated swim areas and try to swim with others. Even experienced swimmers can become caught in the rip current.
- Wear a life jacket when boating and kayaking.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- If you start feeling faint or light headed, get shade and water immediately.
- Use sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF 15 to avoid sunburn. Avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day.
- Know the flag system for water safety.
At the ATM
- Try to use an ATM in your hotel. If you must use an outdoor ATM, go during daylight hours and with a friend.
- When you approach the ATM, look around completely for anyone suspicious.
- Cover the keypad as you punch in your pin number.
Protect your assets
- Make copies of your credit cards, ID, and passport (if traveling abroad), and keep one of each in the hotel safe at all times.
- Keep your money, camera, and ID as concealed as possible.
- If you choose to have sex, make sure it’s protected.
- Do not let anyone talk you into something you are not comfortable doing.
- If you choose to “hook up,” be careful of who it’s with. Spring break is a great time for would-be assailants to prey on unsuspecting, drinking college students.
- Create a code word to let your friends know when you are uncomfortable and need them to intervene.
- Trust your instincts. If it feels uncomfortable, don’t do it!
While I attempted to be thorough, there is no standard list of do’s and don’ts. The best advice this father of four survivors of the teenage years can give is use common sense and make good decisions.
Mark M. Bello is an attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. He is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation, a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.