March 4, 2004
Eat, drink and be leery: Methodist Rehabilitation Center urges Spring Break revelers to play it safe
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—If your spring break itinerary includes a trip abroad, make sure safety and injury prevention are part of your plans.
Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director of Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, says precautions are especially important when traveling outside the United States.
“People need to be extra cautious about improperly cooked food and contaminated drinking water,” Dr. Vohra said. “They should keep plenty of bottled water and high-protein snacks on hand.”
If you’ll need prescription medication during your trip, Dr. Vohra recommends packing the medicine in a carry-on bag in case your luggage is lost.
“Keep your medical history with you at all times and have all appropriate vaccinations before leaving the country,” he said.
Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide safety and injury prevention program, said travelers can obtain critical information about foreign destinations through the U.S. Department of State’s consular information sheets.
Information is available on every country in the world and can be viewed at www.travel.state.gov.
“This site describes travel conditions for people to make informed decisions about their trips,” Fairburn said. “Travelers can find out entry requirements, currency regulations, unusual health conditions, crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, and special information about driving and road conditions.”
The site also provides addresses and emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates.
To avoid being victimized while traveling abroad, take some simple precautions to ensure you’re not an easy target for thieves, Fairburn said.
“Conceal your passport, cash or traveler checks and credit cards in different places, instead of using one big wallet or fanny pack,” Fairburn said. “Use an inside pouch or money belt worn under clothes instead of an exposed hand bag.”
For travelers who’ll be staying closer to home and hitting the highways during spring break holidays, Fairburn recommends driving defensively.
“Drivers should remember that there will be more high school and college students on the road and in a hurry to get to their destination,” she said. “Make sure to buckle up and have your children’s car seats checked by a certified car seat technician before leaving.”
Another safety concern during spring break is motorists who may be driving while intoxicated.
Fairburn said alcohol-related traffic deaths are on the rise, according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA statistics show that in 2002, more than 17,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes on the nation’s highways, representing a death every 30 minutes.
Safe and sober driving must be a priority for everyone,” Fairburn said. “We want spring break celebrations to be fun, exciting and most importantly, safe.”
Tips for a safe spring break include:
- Never drink alcoholic beverages and drive.
- If chlorinated tap water is not available, drink bottled water.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 and try to stay out of the sun when its rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to replace fluid loss.
- Never talk on a cell phone while driving.
- If traveling outside the United States, do not eat raw foods, salads and uncooked vegetables.
- Leave valuables, expensive-looking jewelry, unique family objects, all unnecessary credit cards and other related items you may routinely carry at home.
- Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver's license and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Pack one in a separate place from where you carry your valuables and leave the other with family and friends at home.
- Expect increased traffic on the road and allow more time to reach your destination.
- When driving, never allow luggage or other items to block the rear window and remember to rest every two to three hours.