This is the time of year that makes parents nervous. It's spring break season. I have to wonder how popular Mexico is these days for spring breakers. It seems as though every day there is some new news story about drug gangs shooting up police stations or ambushing cars at road blocks. Parents don't want to hear this kind of stuff. Unfortunately, the fearlessness of college students many times overrides just plain common sense. So what's a parent to do?
Well, first of all, you should have been discussing spring break plans with your collegian already. The last thing you need to hear is, "Hey, Mom, we're heading to Cancun Monday for four days." Really. Aside from the finances involved, there are other planning issues that come to the fore. Safety and sane behavior would rank first and second on my list of parental concerns if I still had kids in college. Those two factors go hand in hand. If one is acting INsane, then safety takes a seat in the back of the bus, way back. So, what is a good plan for a spring breaker?
I found an excellent summary of spring break safety tips at suite101.c0m written by Naomi Rockler-Gladen. Your son or daughter may just ignore these precautions if you send them, but at least you may get some peace of mind from having informed him or her that there is a sane way to enjoy spring break. Let's have a look at some highlights.
Spring Break Safety Tips
Alcohol, Property & Physical Safety Precautions for College Students
Looking forward to a getting away from classes and spending a week hanging out with friends on a beautiful beach? Spring Break is a quintessential part of the college experience, and it can be one of the highlights of your college career-- if you're careful. Here are some safety precautions and tips to help college (and high school) students have a fabulous Spring Break.
Be aware that there are lots of people out there who see students on Spring Break as easy targets for theft. Don't prove them correct. When traveling, here are some precautions you should always take with your valuables.
- Take as few valuables with your on your trip as possible,
- Book hotels that give you access to a safe. Lock up anything of value. Do not leave money or valuables around your room.
- Always lock your hotel room door.
- If you are traveling abroad, keep your passport in a secure location at all times.
- Watch out for scam artists who try to rip off students. Avoid high pressure sales pitches, and never go off to a secluded location with someone who wants to sell you something.
- If your cell phone or credit cards are stolen, report this immediately to the companies so they can cancel your service.
- When booking your trip, watch out for Spring Break travel package scams.
High profile cases such as Natalee Holloway-- a high school student who disappeared during her Spring Break trip to Aruba-- are uncommon. However, sexual violence and other violent acts during Spring Break are not. Neither are accidents. Use common sense and follow these simple safety tips.
- Always stay in the proximity of at least one friend, and preferably two or three. Adhere strictly to this "buddy system" and do not leave with someone other than your buddies. Be sure to choose buddies you can trust.
- Do not leave with strangers, even if it seems like a good idea at the time. Always err on the side of caution and trust your instincts.
- Watch your drink very carefully! Be aware of "date rape" drugs that people may try to sneak into your drink. Never accept a drink from a stranger or let someone else hold your drink.
- Never go to an isolated place with a stranger or someone you do not fully trust.
- Carry a cell phone with you in case of an emergency.
- Carry your identification and important medical information on your person in case of an emergency.
If you're going to drink during Spring Break, it's very important that you take precautions. Drunk college students are seen as a target for both theft and rape, so do not underestimate the way to take these reasonable precautions.
- Binge drinking is a big part of the Spring Break experience for many students-- and it's what gets students into trouble the most. The safest approach is to not binge drink and to know your limit with alcohol. If you do drink excessively, always use the buddy system and lots of common sense.
- Make sure you know the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
- Do not drink and drive, ever. You know better.
- Be aware of all local laws and regulations involving alcohol, especially if you are travelling abroad. A night in a foreign jail was probably not on your itinerary.
- Intoxication greatly increases a woman's chance of being raped. If you drink, always rely on the buddy system and be very careful. As stated above, always keep an eye on your drink.
- Use common sense when it comes to sun exposure. Always use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 (higher if you have fair skin), and be sure to wear sunscreen even if it's cloudy. Wear hats and good sunglasses
- Use common sense when it comes to swimming and water safety. Never swim alone, and avoid swimming when no lifeguard is present. Do not drink when swimming or operating a boat.
- Drink lots of water! Don't rely on alcoholic or carbonated beverages to quench your thirst, as these drinks can actually make you more dehydrated. If the local drinking water is questionable, make sure you have an abundant supply of bottled water.
- If you're going to be sexually active with strangers, for gosh sakes, wear a condom if you'd like to avoid a souvenir that requires a hefty dose of medication.
Back to Mexico, here's an interesting article about safety south of the border. Bottom line: Regardless of where your son or daughter is going for spring break, a little serious and loving parental guidance can't hurt. Be safe out there, kids, wherever you go.
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