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Don't Let Alcohol Ruin Your Summer Fun

Summer in Tahoe is a perfect setting for outdoor activities with family and friends. For some, drinking alcoholic beverages is part of the fun-in-the-sun experience. But excessive alcohol consumption and summer activities don’t mix. 

According to the CDC, alcohol relates to 70% of water recreation deaths and 48% of pedestrian fatalities. Alcohol decreases inhibition and impairs mental and physical capabilities, judgement, balance, and vision. It decreases reaction time and increases fatigue. Alcohol can lead to tragic consequences on the water, on the road and in the outdoors.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports 60% percent of boating fatalities involved alcohol. Did you know that a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.1% is 16 times more likely to die in a boating accident than a sober operator? Drinking passengers are also more likely to slip on the deck or fall overboard. 

Additionally, a seasoned swimmer who’s had a few drinks may venture out too far in Tahoe’s frigid waters. A leg cramp can make it difficult to return to shore and a chill can develop into hypothermia. Avoid going far from shore and stay within a beach’s designated swimming zone. 

Many visitors are unfamiliar with the roads and have other distractions, such as hauling a boat or camper, or dealing with children and pets in the backseat. Adding alcohol puts the driver and passengers as well as other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in harm’s way. 

Hot summer days on Tahoe’s trails can lead to increased sweat and alcohol causes additional fluid loss from increased urination. Together, excessive water loss paired with sun exposure can quickly lead to dehydration or heat stroke. Stay hydrated. Drink ample cold, non-alcoholic drinks when hiking or biking.

Crowded beaches and social settings where drinking occurs closely among strangers can also be dangerous. Social predators exist and may see a person’s alcohol consumption as an opportunity to get too close or slip a drug or foreign substance into their drink. Know your limits and never leave your drink unattended. Stay with a friend or buddy who can help identify any strange or alarming behavior. 

Avoid tragedy by forgoing alcohol in the risky situations suggested above. If you do drink, stay with a friend, find a sober driver, drink plenty of water and resist operating any motorized vehicle.
Dr. Kimberly Evans is a surgeon and the Trauma Program Medical Director at Barton Health. Barton’s Level III Trauma Center provides medical services for trauma care and the immediate availability of emergency medicine physicians, surgeons, nurses, lab and x-ray technicians, and life support equipment 24-hours a day. Learn more at BartonHealth.org. In case of emergency, always dial 9-1-1.