Whether you’re vacationing in tropical latitudes or enjoying a weekend by the grill in your own backyard, summer is a wonderful opportunity to relax, spend time with friends and family, and bask in the warm weather. Of course, it’s natural to reach for a refreshing cold drink when you’re enjoying the summer heat – but if your drink of choice contains alcohol, it bears being a bit more careful with your summertime celebrations. Drinking alcohol in hot weather can be dangerous for reasons beyond the usual ones, so if a pitcher of sangria or a cooler of beer is part of your summer fun, it’s good to be careful with your own consumption and to keep an eye on the people around you.

alcohol and summer heatAlcohol affects the body in ways that many people are unaware of, and some of those effects become more dangerous as the temperature rises. Even a moderate amount of alcohol can interfere with the functioning of the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain that performs many important tasks including regulating body temperature. Normally, your body is able to maintain a relatively consistent body temperature regardless of the conditions outside it. When a substance like alcohol interferes with that internal regulation process, your body is much more vulnerable to the temperature of the world around you. On a hot, sunny day, that can lead to heat stroke and other heat illness, as your internal temperature spikes dangerously high.

Another way that alcohol affects the body is as a diuretic – in other words, it makes you need to urinate more, which impacts your body’s internal balance of fluids. On a hot day when your body is already losing water through sweating, this can put you at risk of dehydration. This particular danger is especially insidious, because if you find yourself thirsty, you might naturally reach for another round of whatever you’ve already been drinking to quench that thirst… but if there’s alcohol in that drink, you could be unknowingly making the situation worse and putting yourself at greater risk of dangerous levels of dehydration. Poor hydration also makes you more susceptible to heat illness. Watch out for symptoms like headache or dizziness in yourself or others, especially if they’ve been engaging in heavy exertion, drinking, or both.

The more familiar effects of alcohol on the body – loss of coordination, impaired judgment, heightened risk-taking behavior – find new opportunities to create dangerous situations during summer celebrations. There’s little more refreshing or relaxing on a hot day than going for a swim, whether you’re visiting a lake or ocean or enjoying a dip in the pool. But any activities in or around the water become more dangerous when alcohol is in the picture. Even experienced swimmers, divers, or surfers can make poor judgment calls when under the influence, and even a minor mistake in the water can lead to tragic consequences. Far too many drowning accidents have happened because someone swam out too far, dived too deep, or engaged in ill-considered horseplay by the pool while impaired by alcohol.

By the same token, an afternoon of boating can take a dangerous turn if alcohol is involved. Most people, whether aboard personal or rented vessels, pilot a boat much less often than they drive a car, and most of the time automobiles don’t involve nearly as much risk of drowning. Distressingly, more than one in three summer boating fatalities feature the consumption of alcohol in some capacity. In some of those cases, the operator of the boat isn’t even among those drinking; a boat full of rowdy drunk passengers can become a deadly distraction for the operator attempting to control the boat safely. No less than is true for cars, the operator of a boat must be sober, alert, and free of distraction.

Automotive accidents cannot be overlooked when considering the dangers of summertime drinking, either. Schools and colleges have their breaks during the warm months, and many people schedule vacation time during the summer as well, resulting in numerous road trips, house parties, and backyard barbecues – which unfortunately present an equally high number of opportunities for people to be tempted to drink and drive. Alcohol can impair motor function, alertness, judgment, reaction time, and other important physical and mental responses even at levels below the legal limit. Every day in America, 29 people die in car crashes involving a drunk driver. Remind your friends that there’s always an alternative to driving drunk.

Of course, alcoholic drinks can still be a fun and safe part of summer celebrations, as long as everyone is careful. Make sure plenty of shade is available, alternate alcohol with plenty of water, consider enjoying a swim before the drinks come out, and keep an eye out for anyone experiencing symptoms of dehydration or heat sickness. Stay safe and have fun!

Contact MyNJInjuryLawyer Howard P. Lesnik

If you or a loved one suffered an injury in an accident in NJ, you should contact an attorney familiar with handling these claims. An experienced NJ Injury Lawyer will know how to obtain medical records, videos, photographs, experts, locate witnesses and contact the insurance company so you can make a claim for your injuries.

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