The Dangers of Alcohol and Water Recreation

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The temperature is high and the calendar is full. Many people will spend their summer running from one social gathering to the next, and during these events they are bound to encounter opportunities to drink alcohol.

Summer adds a complicating factor to alcohol consumption. Much of the alcohol consumed during the months of June, July, and August will be near or in the water. Boaters and swimmers need to be aware of the dangers when consuming alcohol.

Drinking alcohol is associated with impaired abilities, both mental and physical, and can reduce inhibitions. As written in an article published by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking can be especially dangerous when paired with water. More than half of all water recreation deaths involve alcohol.

Don’t Mix Drinking With Swimming and Surfing

When under the influence, a swimmer can misjudge distance and struggle to get back to safety or not notice that the water is too cold and become hypothermic. A surfer could become overly confident about what size wave they can handle.

Even when swimming is done in a pool, the effects of alcohol can be deadly. Swimmers may mistakenly dive into shallow water. They may also take additional risks, like running on a slick poolside surface or playing games that are hazardous.

Boat or Car, Designate a Driver

The NIAAA reports that 60 percent of boating fatalities involved alcohol, including instances where a person fell overboard. In addition, when the driver of the boat has a blood alcohol concentration above 0.1 percent, they are 16 times more likely to die in an accident as compared with a boat operator who has not been drinking.

Drinking while driving is always dangerous, but summer adds more complications. Intoxicated recreational vehicle drivers pose special risks to themselves, especially given the greater likelihood that they are dealing with an unfamiliar route or the distraction of children and other family members in the vehicle.

Understand Alcohol

The article notes that common misunderstandings about alcohol often result in problems for drinkers. For instance, some drinkers consume beer or wine heavily, believing that they are only at risk if they switch to hard liquor. Instead, the NIAAA says that alcohol is alcohol, and that blood alcohol content determines level of impairment, not the type of alcohol consumed.

Another myth is that drinking coffee will sober up a drinker. While the caffeine may reduce the level of drowsiness, the drinker will still struggle with impaired decision-making and a lack of coordination. The coffee will not help a drinker metabolize the alcohol any faster.

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