Spring break is just around the corner for Auburn University students, and many people are rushing to finalize plans. From the mountains to the beach, students don’t seem to be too picky about their escape as long as their friends are in tow. Letting loose with friends is a good way to vent school stress, but be sure to keep safety in mind.

Four out of five students interviewed on Auburn University’s concourse said they were planning on a tropical vacation. Jade Rydson, a senior, elaborates on her previous trips and her plans for this year.

“I’ve been to some sort of beach every year, and I wouldn’t ever do anything else,” says Rydson. “My parents always tease me because I’ve lived on the beach my whole life, but I still always choose to vacation there. I went to Destin my freshman year, Cabo [Cabo San Lucas, Mexico] my sophomore year, Destin again last year, and this year I will be going to Key West.”

Rydson said that she finds the beach to be the most relaxing place on earth. Perhaps this is why so many students choose tropical escapes. It seems that Key West, Fla., is a popular destination for Auburn students this year. Three of the other people who shared their plans on the concourse are heading to the islands in South Florida.

Phillips Murray, a junior at Auburn, plans to go to Key West during the break, and he shares his interesting story as to why he chose this destination.

“Well, all my friends are going there [Key West] and I’m sure it will be a great time, but I usually go skiing for spring break,” explains Murray. “I decided against that, because last year in Colorado I was skiing and broke my collar bone. It was awful. It was the first day of skiing, and it was only my fourth or fifth run down the mountain. I had to fly straight back to Atlanta the next morning and have surgery. I figured the beach will be fun and, at the same time, a lot safer.”

Although spring break is a time for fun and relaxation, there is also lots of opportunity for unplanned accidents to occur. Unless you travel out of the country you must be 21 to drink, but many young people find themselves drinking excessively, legal or not.

According to a University of Wisconsin study, 75 percent of college males and 43.6 percent of females reported being intoxicated on a daily basis during spring break. Nearly half of the males and more than 40 percent of the females also reported being drunk to the point of vomiting or passing out at least once during break.

This is a scary statistic, but it is reality. It is good to familiarize yourself with the risks before the trip. Rydson explains that before she was 21 she would make an agreement with her friends that they would not drink. She explained that this worked because if they felt pressured to drink, they would use each other for support to say no.

Excessive alcohol is not the only hazard that students encounter on spring break. There are also environmental risks to take into account. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just posted some spring break safety tips on their Website. According to AAP, you should drink plenty of water, stay within the designated swim area, never swim alone, watch for rip currents, seek shelter in case of a storm and watch out for traffic. You can read the full article that includes many more tips here.

Spring break has the potential to be a relaxing retreat as long as you are well prepared and familiar with the risks.

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