Austin

Why Alcohol and Summer Shouldn’t Mix

Posted on August 6th, 2015
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

Summer recreational pursuits should be fun, filled with discovery and learning opportunities. Unfortunately, too many people equate summertime with a chance to party all night, engaging in activities that often include consuming massive quantities of alcohol.

But there’s danger in topping off summertime fun with alcohol. Here are a few ways that adding alcohol to summer activities could prove harmful — or even deadly.

Drinking and Driving: A Potentially Fatal Combination

Getting to your summertime destination — whether you’re heading to the beach for a barbecue or hanging out with friends, relaxing on a family vacation, or going to a concert or other entertainment venue — usually means going by automobile. Drinking and getting behind the wheel can be one of the last things you ever do.

Not only could you be traveling on unfamiliar territory, you’ll also likely have other distractions in the car, such as children, pets, or music or videos playing. If you’re pulling a trailer or camper or hauling a boat to your destination this summer, having a few beers before you hit the road is unwise.

The 100 deadliest days for drivers are from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to AAA. Be cautious and safe. Don’t drink and drive this summer — or ever.

Heat Stroke and Dehydration Are More Likely

You might believe you need that beer or cocktail or chilled glass of wine to cool off in the summer heat, but you might be harming yourself. One drink quickly and too easily turns into another and another. Before you know it, you’re intoxicated or impaired. You might lose track of time and remain in the sun to the point of suffering heat stroke. This potentially fatal medical condition occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches 105 degrees.

You could easily become dehydrated in the summer heat, especially if you’ve been pounding back alcoholic drinks. Dehydration brings on heat stroke. When you drink alcohol, you might believe it’s cooling you off, but it’s actually lowering your body’s ability to withstand heat. It not only takes longer to cool off, but because alcohol‘s a diuretic, you’ll be flushing away most of your fluids, thereby increasing the danger of dehydration and risk of heat stroke.

Say you’ve been lying back with a few beers, telling stories and joking with your friends at the beach. Someone suggests a game of volleyball, or you decide to participate in some strenuous water sports. Engaging in strenuous physical exercise and activities after you’ve been drinking increases dehydration — and that can result in a medical emergency such as heat stroke or other serious conditions. If you plan to participate in such strenuous physical activities, lay off the alcohol. It’s better to be a spectator than a casualty.

You’ll Likely Drink More Than You Expect

The phenomenon known as “day drinking” can become a serious problem at anytime, but perhaps even more so in summer months. Whether you’re with your gal pals or in mixed company or drinking by yourself (which in itself is a dangerous and problematic behavior), drinking alcohol during the day in summer can result in your drinking more than you expect or want.

It can also become a habit, as you and your friends seek to recreate the buzz and good times you experienced before. When drinking becomes a daily occurrence, it sets you up for continued problems with alcohol, including eventual dependence or addiction.

Drinking Alcohol Can Lead To Sunburn and Other Injuries

You take precautions to slather a good amount of sun block to help prevent sunburn in the summer. But did you know that drinking alcohol will increase the risk of sunburn? A study published in May 2014 in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that consuming just one alcoholic drink a day raised melanoma risk by 20%.

One reason might be that alcohol metabolizes into acetaldehyde, which can increase susceptibility to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Another reason to avoid drinking alcohol this summer is that you can easily stay out in the sun too long, increasing your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. This could result in sunburn in the short term and cancer in the long term.

Alcohol impairs judgment, decision-making, reaction time and awareness, among other important cognitive and physical functions. When you consume alcohol at summer barbecues and get-togethers, after a certain point — and it’s different for each person — you’re more prone to get into an accident. Burns, falls, cuts and injuries from lifting heavy objects are common after drinking. Cool it on the margaritas and drink more water to stay cool and in one piece this summer.

Swimming and Boating Are Dangerous After Drinking

What better way to cool off in summer than to jump in the water? Sounds like a great idea, and it is — unless you’ve been drinking. You could become overconfident of your abilities and swim out too far, getting in literally over your head.

The well-known consequence of alcohol is that it impairs judgment and increases risk-taking. You might not be able to make it back to shore safely. You might also develop hypothermia, having not noticed how chilled you got while swimming. In any event, drinking and swimming is never a good idea. Just once could prove to be fatal.

Another instance where drinking alcohol this summer is a bad idea is when you’re piloting or traveling in a boat. Again, alcohol impairs judgment, resulting in poor decision-making, unsteady balance, poor vision and decreased reaction time.

Did you know that alcohol might be involved in 60% of boating fatalities — including deaths from falling overboard? That’s according to a study published in July 1993 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.1%, a person is 16 times more likely to die in a boating accident than someone with a BAC of zero. Boat passengers are also at risk when drinking, due to increased likelihood of falls, slips on the deck and falling overboard. Make boating safe this summer — and leave the alcohol behind.

By Suzanne Kane

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