One of the most anticipated holidays for college students begins this week for University of Louisiana at Lafayette students. Instead of spending their days in Edith Garland Dupré Library cramming for that next crucial test, UL Lafayette students are preparing for the Gulf Coast’s warm, white sands, the extravagant parties and, in general, a little R&R for those who have begun to feel the pressure from impending final exams.
However, while spring break sounds like an attractive escape from daily stresses, in order to have an excellent time, safety must be your first priority. You may already be aware of the shooting that took place in Panama City, Florida last week, and in 2013, a University of Southern California student shocked the world after he fell from a six-floor balcony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While horror stories like these aren’t regular occurrences, being cautious can prevent you and your friends from making similar costly mistakes.
If you are cruising down to the beach for your spring break, or simply heading out of town for a small vacation, here are a few simple tips to ensure you and your friends have an amazing, memorable trip to and from your vacation destination.
1) Keep Your Friends Close
Always hang out in groups! Millions of college students attend spring break festivities each year, so it’s easy to get lost in the massive crowds if you decide to venture off on your own.
If there is a situation where you lose your group in a large area, make sure you quickly contact all your friends to inform them where you are. Try to stay on the phone and keep them constantly updated of your whereabouts.
Don’t let any of your friends leave a party by themselves, even if it is with that unbelievably attractive Hollister-model wannabe. If you need to go to the restroom, impress your elementary school teacher by utilizing the “buddy system” and drag your friends with you. Predators are less likely to attack if they see you are in a group rather than by yourself.
2) Drink Responsibly
While there’s nothing wrong with indulging a little while you’re on vacation, be careful about participating in the anticipated wild, drunken activities that have immortalized spring break. Falling asleep on the beach and waking up with a nasty, lobster-like sunburn because you’ve been drinking all day is an easy way to ruin the trip you’ve been planning since Christmas, especially since you’ll be more prone to dehydration. One way to avoid becoming dehydrated, as well as dodging that inevitable nasty hangover, is to drink a glass, or a bottle, of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume.
Don’t accept alcohol from strangers, and don’t leave your drink unattended. Someone could easily slip something into it. And remember, don’t feel pressured to drink if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, and if you do decide to participate, be conscious of how much alcohol you consume. Alcohol poisoning is a serious effect from over drinking, and avoiding this could save you an embarrassing call to your parents.
3) Hotel and Beach Safety
We know Spiderman may be your favorite superhero, but hanging off of balcony railings could result in not only hundreds of dollars worth in fines, and possibly jail time, it could also lead to serious injuries and possibly death.
Even if you’re an Olympic swimmer who previously swam to Cuba and back in record time, remember to follow any flags or posting markers on the beach that are used to warn you about dangerous marine life, harsh water conditions, or any other warnings the beach patrol feels is necessary.
Aquaman may be able to navigate the dark sea waters at night, but remember, you are not Aquaman. Avoid swimming at night, even if you do want to wallow in shallow waters in search of the famous ghost crabs.
4) Safe Sex
A report from the American Medical Association said, “More than half of college students know friends who were sexually active with more than one partner during spring break. Nearly three out of five women know friends who had unprotected sex during spring break.”
If there is even a remote possibility that you may engage in sexual activities, remember to practice safe sex and use condoms. Condoms are the only way to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, so use one every single time you have sex.
5) Social Media
It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities by posting drunken selfies and intoxicated tweets to your social media accounts. However, while these images may be OK for your friends and family members to view, remember employers take social networking profiles into consideration when making hiring decisions.
Don’t let a week of self-indulging entertainment ruin your future job prospects by remembering that everything is a camera. Don’t do anything at a club you’d be mortified to see on CNN — or “Girls Gone Wild” — tomorrow. Be selective when posting your own pictures, and try to avoid any images that have you, along with a red solo cup of cheap beer, a pair of bloodshot eyes and more skin than you’d ever let your grandmother see, from getting posted.
Kaila Jackson contributed to this report.
Here’s a self-defense expert giving advice on spring break safety.