Risky Drinking and Summer Activities Don’t Mix

Jennifer Faringer, MS ED, CPPg
Director, DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – Rochester Area

Summer has arrived and everyone is eager to get outdoors, go to the beach and be on the water. A word of caution be aware that risky drinking combined with summer activities are not a good mix. Drinking impairs our physical and mental abilities and increases our likelihood to engage in risky behaviors. Did you know that up to 70 percent of water recreation deaths for teens and adults involve the use of alcohol?

Summer Drinks NCADD-RAAlcohol impairs judgment and increases risk-taking, both of which are a dangerous combination for swimmers who may then swim out farther then they intended and subsequently are not able to make it safely back to the shore. Swimmers who are drinking may also become chilled more quickly, risking the development of hypothermia. While swimming within the confines of a pool, divers who are drinking may misjudge depth and dive where water is too shallow or accidentally collide with the diving board.

Alcohol is the leading known cause of fatal boating crashes contributing to at least 19 percent of boating deaths according to the US Coast Guard. Having a B.A.C. of 0.08 percent or higher causes one to be 14 times more likely to be killed in a boating crash compared to one with no alcohol in their system. Alcohol impairs a boater’s judgment and reaction time, their balance and vision. With alcohol one experiences both increases in fatigue as well as the effects from cold water immersion. Boating passengers are more prone to slipping on deck or falling overboard.

With the heat of the summer upon us, which brings increased perspiration and loss of fluid, adding alcohol to the mix further increases fluid loss. Together they can lead to dehydration and potentially heat stroke.

Enjoy your summer activities safely, avoid alcoholic beverages while boating, swimming, hiking, and driving. Consider offering nonalcoholic alternatives when hosting summer gatherings. Think before you drink so that you and your loved ones will have many more summers to enjoy!

For more information, resources or referral, explore our website at www.ncadd-ra.org.