Spring Break Survival Tip Guide
Summer Break is a great time to head home, vacation, spend time with friends, and enjoy a well deserved rest from school! However, breaks are also a time where students face increased risks from traveling, partying, and vacationing in various locations. Students also struggle sometimes with transitioning back to being a "kid" while at home with family. Below are some suggestions to maximize your fun and relaxation, while keeping yourself safe and happy!
- Before you leave for a road trip, have your car inspected. Check tire pressure, breaks, windshield wipers, fluid levels, and have your oil changed if needed. Make sure you have a spare tire, a jack, and jumper cables.
- Always keep your doors locked and windows rolled up. Travel with a spare key that you keep on you at all times in case you lock your keys in the car.
- Drive on heavily traveled roads and interstates when possible. Know the distance to the next town/gas station in order to help you plan your stops safely.
- Never pick up hitchhikers or anyone else from the side of the road, gas stations, or other travel stops.
- If you have car trouble, especially if traveling alone, stay in your car with the doors locked and call the police for assistance. Be wary of anyone who stops to help you. Another resource for TTU Students is the Parents' Association Road Raider Network. This group of parents has volunteered to be a resource for any stranded student. You can access the list to find someone available close to you!
- Do not allow anyone in the car to drink alcohol while traveling. Many states have open container laws, including Texas.
- If you are tired, trade drivers or stop for the night, even unscheduled. A hotel room is cheaper (AND SAFER) than an accident from falling asleep at the wheel. You can nap at rest stops off the highway, but plan for these to be short stops. Keep your windows up and doors locked.
- Research your accommodations ahead of time, reviewing ratings online or booking through a trusted source, such as a travel agent.
- Take copies of your receipts and confirmation numbers.
- Make copies of your identification and plane tickets. Keep copies in the hotel safe.
- Take insurance and prescription cards with you. Have clearly labeled "Emergency Contact" information in your phone and documents.
- Take all medications with you. Identify nearby pharmacies that can refill a prescription in case of emergencies.
- Give a family member/friend that is staying behind a copy of your travel itinerary, including hotel name, flight information, rental car company, etc.
- Traveling to a region where Zika is present? Check out the Health Department's Safety Tips.
- Eat a real meal before drinking. Snack throughout the time you're drinking.
- Being on vacation isn't a good reason to drink more than you usually would. Aim for one drink or less per hour, alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Make sure to drink water or juice, and not just soda, I order to prevent dehydration. Too much caffeine can also mask how intoxicated you are- your body may be trying to send signals that you need to stop drinking, but those effects can be masked with energy drinks, cokes, etc.
- Know what you're drinking. Watch your drink being made, make it yourself, or drink only from cans or bottles. If your drink is ever out of your sight, throw it out and get a new one. 'Date rape drugs' such as GHB and Roofies are always a concern, but it's equally dangerous to have undetermined amounts of alcohol in your cup. A standard drink is 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz of hard liquor. Having "one drink" that contains multiple shots, beer or wine causes you to underestimate the amount of alcohol you've consumed, which can be a safety concern for sexual activity, driving, and alcohol poisoning.
- Use the buddy system. Watch out for friends that you went out with, and expect the same in return. Don't go off alone or allow a friend to leave without checking in first. It's safest not to leave without anyone you came with.
- Have a safe ride plan BEFORE drinking. Designated a non-drinking driver, take a cab, or call Uber. If your DD decides to take a drink, make a new plan for calling a safe ride.
- Know the signs of alcohol poisoning, and how to get help.
Safer Sex Tips
- Just because you're on vacation, you don't have to engage in sex. Any sexual encounters should happen because you're willing and interested. CONSENSUAL sex is the only kind of sex that you should be having. Make sure to communicate clearly with your partner(s).
- If you're planning sexual activity, watch how much you're drinking. Many students make different decisions after drinking alcohol than they would sober. If the person you are considering sleeping with has been drinking, keep in mind that incapacitation from alcohol/drugs means that a person cannot fully consent. And drunk sex is sloppy sex- keep the drinking light, to a minimum or skip it all together for better sex.
- Always use some form of contraception/protection. Condoms, internal condoms, and dental dams are good basic methods. Oral contraceptives, IUDs, etc. are effective against preventing pregnancy, but do not protect against STIs. Condoms, internal condoms, and dental dams are available at the RISE office free of charge. Stop by the office to grab some (no questions asked!) to get you started for a safe break.
- Be sure to talk with your partner(s) about the last time they were tested for STIs and any current concerns they may have.
- If you choose to hook up, take precautions to keep yourself safe. You likely will not know their sexual history, their health status, and other information. Unfortunately, sometimes people prey on students that are on break looking to have fun. If you decide to hook up with someone you don't know, make sure your friends see this person, get his/her name, and know where you are going. Have a plan to follow up with a friend when you get home, and a plan for how to contact them if you need help.
- Trust your instincts! If it makes you feel uncomfortable, don't do it. Period. And if someone won't take 'no' for an answer- get some help getting out of the situation.
Other Health Concerns
- Watch out for mosquitoes!
- Sun safety- you are just as likely to get a sunburn from skiing as from swimming! Snow and water reflect sun rays and leads to sunburn. Stay safe with sunscreen (minimum of SPF 15), and remember to reapply every few hours. Wear sun glasses, use chap stick, and avoid midday sun to minimize risks.
- (If you are traveling to a cold climate/going skiing) Cold/frostbite- wear protective clothing, and LAYERS (undershirts, long johns, long sleeves, sweater/sweatshirt; leggings, tights, or long johns under pants). Cover your hands, head, and any exposed skin. Scarves, gloves, beanies, and warm socks are a must. Frostbite can occur in minutes without proper protection. If your clothing gets wet, your risk for frostbite increases. Stay warm and dry!
- Whether you are staying at home or traveling somewhere fun, be sure to stay hydrated. Drink non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks to help replenish your body. Water, PowerAde and juice are good staples. Dehydration can have serious consequences, including dry mouth, weakness, dizziness, headaches, decreased urine output, and passing out. Severe dehydration can lead to hospitalization.
Adjusting to Being at Home
Going home for school breaks can be a big adjustment for students AND parents. Some things to consider:
- Discuss expectations before going home. Will there be a curfew? Chores? Family events, expectations, or obligations? Will you be traveling without your family over break? When do you plan to return to school?
- To the extent possible, try to be respectful of family rules and policies while under their roof. If anything you are asked to do compromises your physical or emotional safety, consider staying with friends or other family members that may be safer for you.
- Choose your battles- if Mom really needs you to eat vegetables or clear your plate, do it when you can, and save the fight for the time she wants you to bake 400 cookies by the next day to take to your sister's school bake sale! If asked to pitch in with chores, do what you can to be a helpful visitor.
- Remember that to you, going home may feel more like a strange vacation, while to your family it often feels like everything going back to normal. They may expect you to be exactly like you were in high school and to follow the same rules. This can be really stressful when you've been used to living on your own. Find an outlet for your stress and someone to talk to.
- If home is not a safe place for you, make sure to schedule an appointment with your counselor before you head home, know hotline numbers you can call, or research alternative places to spend the holidays. Make a safety plan before you leave campus.
- You can still access the Texas Tech Crisis HelpLine, even when school is not in session. Call 806-742-5555 to speak immediately with a licensed counselor.
Information adapted from: http://www.wcupa.edu/dps/CPE/PDF/Spring%20Break%20Tips.pdf