Emergency Care For You

Avoiding the Spring Break Nightmare

ACEP's Do's And Don'ts For An Enjoyable Vacation

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) wants every college student to remember spring break positively - fun in the sun, warm beaches, and crystal clear water following months of hard work and dedication. We do not want anyone's spring break adventure to be remembered as a terrible medical emergency nightmare.

As vacationers prepare for spring break, keep in mind, not everything is a tropical paradise, especially when it comes to your health.

"Emergency physicians see so many serious injuries or illnesses during spring break vacations," said Dr. Nick Jouriles, ACEP. "A lot of those are a direct result of bad personal choices that could have easily been avoided."

A few extra things you throw in your suitcase can make the difference between a vacation to remember versus one you try to forget.

  • Do- Wear sunscreen, at least SPF 15 or higher. Apply it generously throughout the day.
  • Do- Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Do- Wear a life vest when boating.
  • Do- Swim with a buddy and try to stay close with people you trust at all times.
  • Do- Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily.
  • Do- Know your surroundings, who you can call for emergencies, and where exactly local emergency departments are located.
  • Do- Get enough sleep. Don't overdo the activities. Sleep deprivation equals bad decision making.
  • Do- Protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes or HIV, as well as unintended pregnancies. The best advice is abstinence. But if you do have sex, use a condom.
  • Do- Use your own judgment. If you're with a group involved in questionable activities resist the urge to join in.
  • Do- Take any medications and proof of insurance along with you.
  • Do- Get proper training from experts before taking part in athletic or skilled activities like surfing, water-skiing, and scuba diving.
  • Do- Carry a cell phone with you at all times in case of emergencies.
  • Do- Trust your instincts. You know what's right, you know what's wrong.
  • Don't- Consume illegal drugs.
  • Don't- Drink alcohol if you plan to drive, boat, or swim.
  • Don't- Drink alcohol if you're underage.
  • Don't- Binge drink. Alcohol poisoning will almost certainly land you in the emergency department, or even worse.
  • Don't- Assume everything is okay if you feel like you're getting ill. If you feel ill, it's your body's way of saying, slow down. Listen to it.
  • Don't- Go to an isolated place with a stranger or someone you do not fully trust.
  • Don't- Just think about the impulse, think about the consequences.

"We want everyone to have the time of their lives, but not at the cost of their health and safety," said Dr. Jouriles. "We do not want to have to treat you inside an emergency department when you should be out having fun."