Articles of Interest

5 Risks of Drinking Alcohol in the Summer Sun

It’s summertime! This means getting outside and enjoying the beach or the lake, swimming, taking a boat ride, or going to backyard barbeques. Many of these fun warm weather activities involve drinking alcohol, but this can be a dangerous mix. Alcohol impairs your mental and physical abilities and decreases your inhibitions and ability to make decisions. Sun and heat exposure can exacerbate these effects, which can lead to significant consequences such as injury on the water, on the road, or in the great outdoors. This summer, don’t let alcohol put a chill on your summer fun. Be aware of the risks of drinking alcohol in the summer sun.

  1. Dehydration – Alcohol consumption can cause the onset of dehydration more easily because it is a diuretic, which means that it rids the body of more fluid than it takes in. When you drink in hot weather, your body temperature rises faster than if you weren’t drinking. You will sweat more as your body tries to cool itself down. Additionally, alcohol can irritate your stomach and result in vomiting, which depletes your body of much-needed fluid. To counteract the dehydration risk of alcohol, drink 8-12 ounces of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.
  2. Heat Stroke – Heat stroke occurs when your body cannot regulate its temperature. Normally, your body’s internal heat is cooled by perspiration. If your body lacks enough fluids to make this process work (because of drinking alcohol), you’re not able to sweat enough to cool down. Being out in the hot summer sun without a way to regulate your body temperature is very dangerous. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include headache, dizziness, disorientation, confusion, loss of consciousness, hallucinations, seizures, and more.
  3. Drowning – According to the CDC, alcohol use contributes to 25% of all adult drowning deaths each year. Alcohol suppresses your body’s gag reflex, which means that it can increase your risk of drowning if you start to struggle in the water. Alcohol also impairs balance, coordination, and judgement and increases risk-taking behavior. You are more likely to slip and fall into the water or misjudge swimming distances. You are also more likely to become disoriented and have difficulty figuring out which way to go to get out of the water. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends waiting at least one hour after consuming alcohol before going into the water.
  4. Boating Accidents – The CDC reports that 1-in-5 boating deaths involve alcohol. Alcohol causes loss of coordination and balance, which is critical when on a boat. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and diminishes reaction time, causing normally cautious people to try stunts such as driving at high speeds or driving too close to another boat.
  5. Car Accidents – The summer months see a significant increase in alcohol-related car crashes and DUIs, especially around holiday weekends. Many families take vacations and may be driving on unfamiliar roads. Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when under the influence of alcohol not only puts you at risk but other innocent people as well.

Summer fun can quickly come to an end when alcohol is involved. If you do have a drink, limit yourself and try to stay somewhere cool and away from water. There are plenty of activities and ways to make memories this summer that do no involve alcohol. If you or someone you know is struggling to control their alcohol consumption, St. Luke’s Penn Foundation can help. Contact us today!