In the Spirits of Summer

6 Tips for Drinking Alcohol Safely

A cold beer at a barbecue. Happy hour on a boat. Cocktails on the patio. Summer is well-suited for enjoying alcohol along with the lovely weather. As a result, many people find themselves drinking in new or different environments that may increase the risks associated with alcohol.

Alcohol affects balance, coordination and judgment. It dehydrates and interferes with your body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. Heat and sun exposure – hallmarks of summer – amplify these effects, which in turn increase your risk of heat illness and accidents.

If you choose to drink alcohol this summer, follow these six tips to do so safely:

1. Hydrate

Staying hydrated is the foundation of safe summer drinking. Alcohol prevents the reabsorption of water into the blood stream by inhibiting the hormone ADH. The dehydrating effects of alcohol combined with sweating in the sun can create a serious lack of water in your body.

Drink water even when you aren’t thirsty – alternating your alcoholic drinks with something hydrating can keep you feeling well and having fun.

2. Pace Yourself

Summer drinking tends to take place at barbecues, during days at the beach or out on a boat. Lazy days mean time tends to be on your side – go slow, take breaks. Sun exposure and heat heighten the effects of drinking, so less is really more.

3. Know Your Limits

This applies first and foremost to alcohol consumption, but it’s also crucial to know your limits when it comes to activities. Drinking alcohol can bring out the risk-taker in you, while simultaneously inhibiting balance, coordination and judgment.

You should be particular wary of swimming during or after drinking. All swimmers should wear a life vest on open water, but the risk of drowning increases with alcohol. Impaired swimmers are more likely to misjudge distance, the strength of the current, the temperature of the water and their own strength as a swimmer.

4. Designate a Driver

It should go without saying that there should always be a sober designated driver whenever traveling by car. The same goes for boating: One in five reported boating fatalities involve alcohol and a sober presence will not only keep the boat operating smoothly, but ensure any drinkers stay safe.

5. Stay Aware

While you are drinking responsibly, with a designated boat driver and a healthy quota of potable water, that doesn’t mean everyone else is. Summer drinking sneaks up on people and it’s important to stay aware of drunk drivers or alcohol-induced risks around you.

6. Take Extra Precautions

When you’re drinking alcohol, you should take extra steps to stay safe in your activities. Consider these precautions:

  • Wear a life jacket at all times on the water
  • Use caution around fire pits or grills
  • Eat a bit more frequently
  • Drink lots of water or hydrating non-alcoholic drinks
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remember to reapply sunscreen
  • Wait 48 hours before drinking alcohol again

Little things that help you compensate for the effects of alcohol can keep you healthy and safe if you choose to partake.