Summer recreational pursuits should be fun, filled with discovery and learning opportunities. Unfortunately, too many…
Why It’s Extra Dangerous to Drink in the Heat
It’s a hot summer day and you’re getting ready for some fun in the sun. You are packing supplies for a picnic, barbecue or a day at the beach and you make sure you fill the cooler with plenty of beer or wine coolers. After all, nothing is more refreshing than an adult beverage on a hot summer day, right?
Wrong. Drinking alcohol while basking in the sun is not only not a good idea, but it can be dangerous. There are several reasons why you should refrain from drinking in the heat, including dehydration, distorted judgment and reckless behavior.
The Danger of Dehydration
Spending time in the heat can raise your body temperature. This is true when you are physically active in the sun, jogging or playing a game of tennis. It’s also true if you are just relaxing and sitting by the beach or a lake. As you start to feel hotter, your body begins to sweat in an effort to cool off. Sweating triggers the urge to have something to drink to replenish the fluids your body is losing.
The best beverages to reach for are water or sports drinks. If you go to an alcoholic beverage to quench your thirst, you are actually making things worse. Alcohol can increase the rate at which your body becomes dehydrated because it increases the amount of urine the body produces. Instead of replenishing the fluids you are losing, you are causing your body to become dehydrated more quickly.
Effects of Alcohol During Summer Activities
Drinking can quickly cause you to experience loss of coordination. This can affect your ability to swim or to dive into the water. If you are under water, your perceptions may be distorted and you may have a hard time figuring out how to get to the surface. Whether you are swimming, diving or steering a boat, you may find that you are not able to react quickly enough if you get into any kind of trouble. A large number of drowning incidents and boating accidents each summer are alcohol-related.
Drinking alcohol in high temperatures complicates the fact that too much heat can be dangerous, even without bringing alcohol into the picture. Extremely high temperatures can lead to heat illness, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Drinking alcohol can intensify these problems both by contributing to dehydration and by affecting your ability to judge whether you are too hot. For example, dizziness is a symptom of both heatstroke and overindulgence in alcohol. You make think you have just had a few too many drinks, but if instead you have developed heatstroke, it could be life-threatening. Falling asleep in the sun for long periods of time can also be dangerous, and if you have had too much to drink, you may not have the sense to move into the shade when it gets too hot.
Enjoying Hot Weather Without Alcohol
The hot days of summer bring opportunities to have fun and memorable experiences, and you can have a great time enjoying every minute of summer events without having to drink alcohol. When you are feeling thirsty, reach for a sports drink or a bottle of water to replenish lost fluids. Enjoy being alert enough to completely appreciate what is going on around you, from the beautiful weather to good friends to good food. Embrace your ability to play tennis or softball without staggering or feeling uncoordinated.
The best thing about avoiding alcohol during summer get-togethers is that you will have clear memories of the special outdoor times you are having. When you enjoy summer sober, the memories of the good times won’t be blurred by a mind-altering substance that distorts your experience of events as they are happening and may erase memories once the event has passed. By choosing not to drink during your summer activities, you will be completely alert and able to experience each moment as it unfolds. You won’t embarrass yourself with reckless behavior, you won’t feel fuzzy or confused and you won’t have to cope with a hangover in the morning.