The Top 20 Safety Tips for Spring Break 2022

With two years of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxing some of their guidance as cases continue to decline, experts predict this year’s Spring Break will be a busy one, with families across the region hopping on planes or cruising down the highway to beaches, parks and other fun destinations. To help you make the most of your vacation, Dr. Samuel Prater, associate professor and executive vice chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Emergency Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and Medical Director of Emergency Services at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, shares his top 20 safety tips for Spring Break 2022.

  1. Wear sunscreen when out in the sun, and reapply according to the directions on the label. A higher SPF does not mean only a single application. Sunburns raise a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, can be extremely painful, and lead to dehydration. Hats or breathable shirts are also great options to help protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  2. Both adults and children should wear helmets and other safety gear when riding bikes, scooters, skateboards, or engaging in any activity that could potentially lead to a head injury. Studies have shown that if used properly, helmets can reduce a person’s risk of serious head injury by at least 50 percent.
  3. Wear your seatbelt—always.
  4. Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water if you are out in the sun, sweating, or consuming alcohol—all of which can contribute to dehydration.
  5. Keep your phone charged in case of an emergency. Better yet, bring a portable phone charger with you if you are going somewhere without easy-to-access outlets such as the beach or a state park.
  6. Be sure to supervise children in your care, especially if you are near open water. Always designate at least one adult as a “watcher,” and make sure that person never becomes distracted on their phone or engaged in a conversation. According to the American Safety Council, approximately 30 percent of children aged 1 to 4 who die from unintentional injury die from drowning.
  7. If on a boat or watercraft, always ensure there are enough life jackets on board for every person. According to Texas law, any passenger 13 years old or younger is required to wear a life jacket while on board any human-powered craft or boat that is under 26 feet in length.
  8. Consume alcohol responsibly. Designate a driver, use public transportation, or engage rideshare services to get home safely. It is always good practice to drink in moderation if you choose to drink.
  9. Although more common in younger children, adults are at risk for choking, too. Be aware of the foods you or your child are consuming and take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening. The most common choking hazards are hot dogs, grapes, nuts, and hard candy.
  10. If traveling, pack any medicine you think you may need for your family. If someone is at risk for an asthma attack or an allergic reaction, you should always carry the appropriate medication wherever you go. Other considerations include over-the-counter adult- and/or child-strength acetaminophen or ibuprofen in case someone in your crew develops an unexpected fever.
  11. Bring important health documents with you on vacation, including prescription information and insurance cards. It is also a good idea to have emergency numbers handy, especially if you are traveling out of the country.
  12. Embrace the buddy system. Whether you are out of the country, at a local beach, or at a citywide music festival, ensure there is someone you can count on in the case of an emergency.
  13. Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. I recommend doing your research ahead of time before you travel, but if you find yourself in an unexpected location, do not be complacent.
  14. If going on a road trip, follow the speed limit and make sure the person driving is getting plenty of breaks and remains sharp. Better yet, designate more than one driver so they can alternate and rest between stretches of the open road. Never text and drive.
  15. The temperatures are rising in Texas, so it is worth reiterating that you should never leave a child alone in a vehicle. Children have died from overheating in cars, which can reach dangerously high temperatures in a matter of minutes.
  16. Help your kids memorize your phone number in case they ever become separated from you. Although you should never let them leave your sight, this is still good practice, especially if you are traveling to a crowded location like a theme park or festival.  
  17. When diving into pools, be aware of their depth and never, ever dive into shallow water. A good rule to follow is no jumping in less than 9 feet of water, and no diving in less than 12 feet.
  18. Keep a first-aid kit in your car and learn CPR. You never know when you may be in a position to save another person’s life.
  19. While the CDC now advises that masking in public is up to individuals, we still recommend being cautious and wearing a mask if the level of COVID-19 in your area is rising, or if you are immunocompromised and your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is elevated. You should also think about masking if anyone in your household—such as elderly parents or young children who are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine—may require additional precautions.
  20. Have fun! Although it is my job to help keep you safe, if you stick to these guidelines, you should be set up for an enjoyable and much-deserved vacation. In the case of an emergency, Memorial Hermann offers a full range of health care services, from urgent care clinics to emergency care. Learn more about our emergency services here. For life-threatening emergencies, never hesitate to call 911. 

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Ali Vise