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Stay Safe If You Drink in the Summer Heat

For many, summer vacation means alcohol. Here are a few tips for protecting yourself if you choose to drink this summer. 

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For many people, summer vacation means drinking—by the pool, at the baseball game, on a camping trip, at the beach, at the theme park. But the ubiquity of alcohol at so many of these hot spots doesn’t mean it’s always safe or smart.

For me, personally, no amount of alcohol is safe. I am one of those people who needs to stay abstinent. But if you’re moderating your drinking or if you are someone who is able to drink normally, there are ways to make drinking in the summertime less risky. Here are a few tips for protecting yourself while drinking this summer.

Hydrate (without alcohol)

Because you consume it basically the way you would drink any other beverage, it’s easy to forget that alcohol does not hydrate you. It actually does the opposite. Alcohol is a diuretic (it makes you pee more) so it can cause dehydration. In the heat, and especially for people who sweat more when drinking, the effect can be magnified.

Make sure you’re hydrating with water or maybe an electrolyte sports drink. This is a common harm reduction suggestion for drinking, and it’s especially important when temperatures rise.

Don’t drink and swim

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 31% of all drownings involve blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of 0.10% or higher. That’s about 1 in every 3 drownings. If you’re hanging out near the pool, beach, or lake, stay out of the water once you start drinking. This goes for all water activities—swimming, surfing, boating, fishing, etc.

Give up the keys to ALL vehicles

After years of M.A.D.D. presentations and public service announcements, most of us are fully aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. Put your keys somewhere inaccessible before you start drinking so that you’re not tempted to get behind the wheel later. And don’t forget that this applies just as much to all motorized vehicles, including boats, motorcycles, dune buggies, and four-wheelers. Don’t drive any vehicle while intoxicated.

Take breaks

I mean this in two ways:

  • Give yourself breaks from consuming alcohol by alternating your alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones. Make the non-alcoholic drink something you enjoy, so you don’t feel annoyed when you switch to it. This might include fizzy water, soda, juice, sports drinks, or mocktails.
  • Take breaks from the sun. Spend some time in the shade or slip indoors for a while. It’s easy to underestimate the effect the sun and heat can have on us, but they can be dangerous. Give your body chances to cool off and recover.

Prep while you’re sober

There are a lot of things you can do and tools you can use to make your summer fun safer and more enjoyable. Plan ahead and get these things set up before you start drinking, as you’re more likely to forget once you’re inebriated. Here are some harm-reduction tools to prepare:

  • Sunscreen—Put sunscreen on ahead of time, before you go into the sun. Bring it along to reapply frequently.
  • Shade—Plan a place to get some shade. Maybe that means a big umbrella, a cabana, or a tent, or maybe it means scoping out the area for buildings where you can get out of the sun for a while.
  • Hat—A hat or visor can protect your face from sunburn and may help you feel a little cooler.
  • Snacks—Eating is an important harm-reduction suggestion when drinking. Food can slow down your body’s absorption of alcohol, which can help you moderate your intake. Prepare snacks that are high in protein, like nuts, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter with apple slices, or hummus with fresh veggies.
  • Water to drink—I know I’m harping on this a bit, but drinking water is so important, both when drinking alcohol and when the weather is hot. Filling a cooler with chilled water ahead of time will make it easy and appealing to sip it later.
  • Download rideshare apps or designate a driver—Plan ahead for how you’re going to get around once you’ve had a few drinks. Make sure you have a willing designated driver, or have a rideshare app installed on your phone and ready to use.

Take care of yourself in the heat! With some care and moderation, you can enjoy your summer fun more safely.

Alaine Sepulveda is a content strategist in recovery from alcohol. She believes that engaging people and sharing stories with them allows us to spread knowledge, and to help others in the path to recovery. She holds an MA in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Workit Health, Inc. and its affiliated professional entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

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