If you’re traveling this Spring Break, your reservations have probably already been made and you are beginning to pack your bags. You are trying to think of everything… but have you thought of how to stay safe while enjoying your vacation? Here are some tips to follow to keep you and your family safe while traveling.
- Often while on vacation, we have the opportunity to participate in sports activities, which can sometimes be high-risk. If zip-lining, bungee jumping, parasailing or other high-risk activities are on your to do list, make sure to do your research. If you decide to, make sure that you use the proper safety gear and follow all safety instructions.
- Confirm the safety precautions and procedures of the company hosting these activities, and decide if you feel comfortable with the risk.
- Even with common sports activities, such as biking, be sure everyone in your group wears a helmet for protection.
- Be sure to stay well-hydrated and drink plenty of water when out in the sun and participating in outdoor activities.
- Use sunscreen liberally, even on cloudy days! There is no worse way to spend the remainder of your vacation then with a painful sunburn.
- Babies under 6 months of age should stay out of the direct sun—keep them in the shade of a tree, umbrella or stroller. Use caution when applying sunscreen to infants this young, but definitely use it if there is no way for them to avoid the sun.
- For older kids and adults, consider UV/sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and a water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Remember that it takes up to 30 minutes to work, so apply it long before you go outside. Reapply every two hours, or after swimming or drying off with a towel. Be sure to cover all those little spots on the nose, ears, feet, and even the scalp if you are not wearing a hat.
- Sunburns can be treated with moisturizers, cooling gels, and ibuprofen, but severe burns should be seen by a medical professional. The best treatment is prevention! Even ONE blistering sunburn can increase an individual’s chance of developing melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, later in life.
- Children should be well-supervised and within an arm’s reach of an adult when in the water. Many pools and beaches may not have lifeguards, so watch children closely.
- When at the beach, stay within the designated swimming area, and be mindful of notifications for possible riptides under the water. If you do get caught in a current, don’t swim against it—swim sideways, along the shore until clear of the current.
- Use proper life vests for children and adults when swimming or boating. Only use floatation devices that have been approved by the US Coast Guard for the particular water activity you are engaging in.
- NEVER dive into the water if you don’t know specifically how deep the water is or if it’s safe for diving. Diving in shallow waters has caused many spinal cord injuries, leading to permanent paralysis.
- Know the real signs of drowning. Be aware that people who are drowning do NOT attract attention by yelling for help and waving their hands. They may simply look like they are trying to swim with their arms and keep their head above water, possibly with a frantic or terrified look on their face. This is why direct supervision is so important.
- Be smart and responsible when drinking.
- Limit drinks so that you can maintain clear thinking and avoid engaging in high-risk behavior.
- Pace yourself and avoid binge drinking. Sometimes people tend to drink more in a short period of time while on vacation, which can lead to alcohol poisoning.
- Always keep an eye on your drink so that no one has a chance to slip something in it. There is a strong link between alcohol and victimization of sexual or violent assaults.
- Do not drive if you have had anything to drink—plan ahead by designating a sober driver or using a transportation service.
- If you are planning to take a road trip, be sure to inspect your car and take care of any routine maintenance that may be needed.
- Refill your gas tank long before it is empty so that you don’t become stranded on the side of the road looking for a gas station.
- If you do get stranded for any reason, pull off the road as far as you possibly can, turn on your hazard lights, and do NOT get out of your car if at all possible! Call for roadside assistance to help with tire changes and other problems. Stranded motorists who are outside their cars are hit and killed by other cars more often than thought. You are safer inside the car and buckled up—just in case a car was to hit your vehicle. If you must get out of the car, try to stand as far away from the car and shoulder of the road as possible.
- Take frequent rests while driving to stretch your legs and stay awake. It’s always best to rotate driving with a partner so that you can each sleep if needed. If possible, limit night-time driving. An accident is more likely to occur when you are more exhausted.
- Avoid any distractions while driving! This certainly includes the use of cell phones, but could also be anything else that may take your eyes of the road or your hands off the wheel. Even a momentary distraction could cause an accident.
Have a great Spring Break!
Kristen Hullum, MSN, RN, PCCN
Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator
St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center