It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in July or August and you just got back from a jog. A friend suggests you have a few drinks and hit the beach for a day in the sun. Images of an ice-cold beer, a glass of white wine, or a margarita dance in your head before taking a dip in the ocean or a relaxing boat ride. Sounds nice, but you could be putting yourself in harm’s way.
Drinking alcohol in hot weather can be a dangerous combination with the risks involving drowning accidents, boating accidents, heat illness, and DUI accidents. Every summer, people drown because they were drunk in the water. Just ask any ER doctor and they’ll tell you that drinking and watersports are a bad mix.
Boating accidents for instance, are a huge problem, especially when intoxicated people fall off the boat and get chewed up by the propeller. Other times, people use personal watercraft when they’re drunk, and either suffer major trauma or accidentally drown.
HEAT INTENSIFIES ALCOHOL’S EFFECTS
It’s no secret that alcohol affects balance, coordination, and judgement. All of these effects are intensified by sun exposure and heat. When you’re drinking, and doing activities in hot weather, you’re putting yourself at risk, even if you don’t have that much to drink.
Nationwide, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% is considered legally drunk. However, even at a BAC of .02%, your ability to perform two tasks at once or track a moving target can be impaired.
Once you reach .08% BAC (about 2.5 drinks in an hour), you start to lose small muscle control. It gets harder to focus your eyes, and it takes you longer to respond to an emergency. Once you reach .08% BAC, the alcohol is affecting your vision, balance, reaction time, and speech, thereby making it more difficult for you to steer a boat or swim safely.
Ways alcohol increases the risk of injury:
· Alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases reckless behavior and injuries. When people drink, they often misjudge swimming distances and when it’s safe to get behind the wheel.
- Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes dehydration. Both alcohol and hot weather dilate the blood vessels; therefore, making one more susceptible to passing out. In a large body of water, this can be deadly.
- Drinking too much alcohol in the heat can lead to dehydration, shock, organ failure, and death.
Your safest bet for summer fun is to limit your alcohol intake to one drink. Even better, stay alcohol-free during your summer activities and save the drinks for later when you’re in an air-conditioned building and have arranged a designated driver or can call Uber or Lyft.