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It’s that time of year again – Spring Break for millions of students across the country. After a winter of cold weather and hours of study, many students flock to beach areas to let loose and have fun. The top 5 destinations for the more than 1.5 million students that are looking for freedom from the daily constraints are:

1. Panama Beach, Florida

2. Cancun, Mexico

3. Daytona Beach, Florida

4. South Padre Island, texas

5. Colorado’s ski resorts

It’s also a time of year that can be incredibly unsafe. We’ve all seen the You Tube videos and news reports of insane parties on the beach, full of young adults binge-drinking in the hot sun. It’s especially important to remember that although initially the alcohol may make you feel relaxed and away from it all, it also has a number of negative side effects. First of all, it will impair your judgment and actions, which often leads to increased sexual assault. Furthermore, it can contribute to dehydration and dizziness. And, contributes to poor motor skills and lack of agility. An alcohol related motor vehicle crash kills someone every 31 minutes and injures someone every 2 minutes, so don’t even take a chance by getting behind the wheel!

According to Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year. The Journal of American College Health says that binge drinking during this time is the norm, which in this scenario means about 18 drinks in one day for males and 10 for females. This is deadly behavior and every year we hear tragic stories about kids who die from alcohol poisoning. In one case, the teenager got to her destination and within 4 hours was so drunk, her friends just put her to bed and even checked on her, but in the morning she wasn’t breathing.

In many situations, underage drinkers are not aware of what to look for when someone is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning, or they are too afraid to get help. Do not hesitate to call for help immediately if someone is showing any or some of these signs. You could save a life!

1. Confusion

2. Vomiting

3. Seizures

4. Irregular or slow breathing

5. Low body temperature

6. Blue or pale skin

**If the person has passed out and cannot be awakened, don’t leave them alone to “sleep it off”. Call 911 and stay with the person in case he/she starts to vomit. Help them role on their side so they don’t choke.

So, how do parents play a role in this? Yes, your child might take the initiative and have the funds to get himself to a spring break partying destination, but a lifetime of imparting the importance of making good choices can definitely help. Have the discussion early on and over again about why drinking alcohol can be dangerous. Remind them to never accept drinks from strangers or drink from an already opened container. Tell them to stay hydrated with non-alcoholic drinks and teach them how to avoid peer pressure without making a big deal out of it. The best plan of attack is to walk around with a soft drink in a cup, so no one bothers you to begin with. Or, if the pressure starts, just respond in a natural, calm tone of voice either “no thanks”, “I already have a drink, thanks”, “I don’t like the taste, I’ll get something else” or don’t answer at all and change the subject. It’s essential to get the point across to your minor that the poor choices they make now, can last a lifetime.