Don’t Take a Break from Good Health!
Staying healthy on Spring Break
By Kirsten Falcone, RN
Hilbert College Wellness Center
Spring Break is quickly approaching, and some college students choose to travel for much-needed warmer weather, sunshine, and relaxation. In order to benefit the most from a spring break away from home, there are some key health items to remember.
Protect yourself from the sun. The shortened daylight associated with the winter months has taken its toll on all of us by this time of year. But that is no reason to forget to protect yourself from sunburn. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 15 (preferably much higher) and reapply often, wear cover-ups and a hat, avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and wear sunglasses. If (but preferably before) you notice a sunburn, get out of the sun, and keep hydrated. Mild sunburns can be soothed with over-the-counter pain medications and cool compresses. Avoid any more sun exposure until the current burn has resolved.
Checklist for being in the sun:
- Sunscreen >/= SPF 15, reapplied often
- Highest risk between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Avoid sunburns by moving to the shade.
- Keep hydrated.
- OTC pain medications and cool compresses to soothe sunburn
- Stay out of sun until burn has healed.
Be smart when drinking alcohol. The healthiest choice is one glass (five ounces) of red wine per day for women and two glasses per day for men. The liver cannot process more than one ounce of hard liquor, five ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer per hour. In addition, drink one eight-ounce glass of water per alcoholic drink, if at all possible, to prevent the effects of dehydration. Make sure one person is a designated driver, or arrange another mode of transportation. Also, be aware of people who might prey on unsuspecting tourists.
Checklist for drinking alcohol:
- Drink only five ounces of red wine,
one ounce of hard liquor,
or 12 ounces of beer per day, to be healthy.
- One drink per hour to avoid liver damage
- One eight-ounce glass of water per hour to combat dehydration
- Designated driver or another mode of transportation
- Watch out for human predators!
Be aware of diseases and health risks. The CDC no longer lists Zika as a travel alert for Florida and Texas on its website. However, if you are traveling anywhere else on the globe that is on the CDC’s high-risk list, (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html), you will need to use mosquito repellent especially during the daylight hours in order to reduce the likelihood of Zika mosquitoes transmitting the virus to you.
Many travelers also come down with “Montezuma’s revenge” (food poisoning), but there are tips on avoiding that, too. The CDC has an app called “Can I Eat This?” For more information, go to this link: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/apps-about. When you go to the link, you can also download other helpful travel apps.
Checklist for disease avoidance:
- Visit the CDC website to familiarize yourself with the region you are visiting.
- Download traveler apps specific to your needs.
- Find out which vaccinations you may need well in advance of your international trip.
Wherever you plan to go, near or far, have a safe, relaxing and healthful Spring Break!
For more information on enjoying a healthful Spring Break, visit these Web sites:
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), handling food safely:
Baylor University, Top 10 Ways to Not Become a Crime Victim (pdf):