By Shelly Reese
For many college students, spring break is a welcome respite from the academic pressure of school and a chance to enjoy a little fun in the sun.
For too many students, however, it can be a time of excess and poor choices in an unfamiliar environment. What can parents do to help ensure their teens have a fun and safe spring break?
“Good planning can go a long way,” says Dr. Sarah Flora, a family physician in St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Alexandria office. “Talking to your children over the possible situations they might run into and appropriate ways to respond can help them avoid getting into a bad situation.”
Here are some reminders for your student from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Ohio State University and safespringbreak.org:
• Set communication expectations. Decide how and when your student will contact you.
• Drive safely. Take turns behind the wheel, don’t drive when you are fatigued and never drink and drive or get in a car with an impaired driver. Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.
• Remember that rules still apply. Emphasize to your student that drug use, underage drinking and binge drinking can have permanent and life changing repercussions.
• Be a stranger. Don’t give out personal information, or tell strangers what hotel you’re staying in or where you’re going.
• Go with your gut. Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel like something is amiss, trust your instincts.
• Travel in groups with friends you know and trust. Never go out alone or leave a safe place with strangers.
• Stay safe in your hotel room. Ensure there is a peep hole in the door and a dead bolt. Never open your door to anyone you do not know.
• Be an alert passenger. Rely on shuttles and bus services. If you are using a taxi or ride service such as Uber or Lyft, stay alert and, if possible, follow along using a navigation service to ensure they are taking you in the right direction.
Above all, Dr. Flora says, remind them to use common sense. This applies to everything from using sun screen to interacting with strangers.
“Spring break can be a very memorable time. Make sure those memories are good ones. Unfortunately, poor planning can lead to not-so-good memories. Think ahead to ensure a safe trip and safe returns.”
SmartHealthToday is a service of St. Elizabeth Healthcare.