By John Horton, Multimedia Specialist
Celebrating America’s birthday is one of the best holidays of the year. Usually one of the hottest days of the year too, but many of us like to go to the lake to cool off, cook some hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, hang out together while listening to music, and just have fun. Depending on the ability, part of that fun may include doing other activities like skiing, playing sports, or just sitting around in the shade while setting off fireworks. No matter what your age, having fun is definitely a requirement.
When the time comes, most of us the “roll with the flow”, so to speak. It’s a time to kick back and relax as much as possible, be calm, cool, & collective. With being cool in the heat, it helps to stay hydrated, but with what? Well, that’s at your own discretion. However, law states that if you are under 21 years of age, you can’t have anything alcoholic. So that should help narrow the selection down a little. Unfortunately that may only prevent some, but not all underage drinking.
A new study finds about a third of adults who like to consume alcohol are drinking at dangerous levels across the U.S. The study of adults, ages 21 and up, finds nationwide levels of heavy and binge drinking on the rise. With that being said, women still drink much less than men do. However, that doesn’t lessen the blow when stating there’s still a high risk factor for many health problems since it is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States alone.
If you are going to be drinking alcohol, it’s important to not over-do it. The less you drink, the less you endanger yourself and those around you. Alcohol abuse over the long term can have some serious ramifications. Through various sources, it’s estimated that somewhere around 18 million adults in the U.S. abuse alcohol. That’s like 1 out of 12 adults abuse alcohol excessively. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive use includes:
- Binge drinking
- Heavy drinking
- Any drinking by pregnant women
- Those younger than age 21
“Binge Drinking” is a dangerous threat to anybody. For women, consuming four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion are considered to be “Bingeing”. For guys, it’s having five or more drinks per occasion to be considered as doing that.
“Heavy Drinking” is defined a little differently. Women have to consume eight or more alcoholic beverages per week to be considered as heavy drinkers. Men will have to drink at least fifteen alcoholic beverages per week to be drinking heavy. In 2014, the percentage of men who had at least one heavy drinking day in the past year was 31.4% while women were 18.9%.
It should go without saying that any drinking of alcohol by pregnant women can cause a serious health hazard not only for themselves, but for their unborn child. Remember, just about anything the woman consumes (food, liquids, drugs, and smoking) goes straight to the child, as they are one. Keep in mind that no amount of alcohol can be proven safe by today’s research. If you tried predicting the impact of drinking, it would be a difficult task because each woman’s body has different levels of enzymes that break down the alcohol consumed.
For those younger than age 21, alcohol is not legal, but that doesn’t stop some. Hence the phrase “underage drinking”. However, when you think about underage drinking, what comes to mind? Do you automatically think of children under the age of 18 or do you think about college students? Either way, many are doing it and its leading into a serious problem as each year there are around 5000 young people under the age of 21 that die as a result of underage drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
What’s really sad is research has proven that underage drinking contributes to a variety of situations, including injuries, sexual assaults, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, physical fighting, and even deaths. Emergency room visits seem to double during the Independence Day weekend in comparison to all other weekends in July, especially when it comes to underage males. Some interesting statistics that could help you better understand what we’re up against on this particular issue include:
- Drinking: It’s been reported that a whopping 35.1% of 15 year old’s in the U.S. have at least tried 1 drink in their lives. To go with that, an estimated 8.7 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking alcohol in the previous month.
- Heavy Drinking: Approximately 1.4 million people between the ages of 12 to 20 were heavy drinkers who consume alcohol products in a risky pattern.
- Binge Drinking: approximately 5.4 million people between the ages of 12 to 20 were binge drinkers. Roughly 1 in 6 U.S. adults binge drink on an average of about 4 times a month. Generally, the largest number of drinks consumed during a binge is 8.
One factor that may contribute to this is that more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent who has alcohol problems. Alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), a medical diagnosis for problem drinking that causes mild to severe distress or harm. Already nearly one-third of all adults in the United States have experienced AUD at some time in their lives, but less than 20 percent (more men than women) have actually pursued treatment of some kind.
Knowing this information is all fine and dandy, but the real question is: How much is a drink? Not how much you can drink, but the actual amount within a “drink”. Well, in accordant with the U.S. standard, you could have a normal 12 fl oz of 5% alc/vol beer and it would count as one (1) drink. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself. Actually knowing the sizes and the number of drinks per container can help you make better decisions about your drinking.
Alcohol not only impairs your ability to function as good as you do when sober, but it also impairs your judgement. That’s why so many people get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. They “feel” fine, but in reality, he or she isn’t in complete control of their mind. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says on average, 51% of all fatal automobile accidents on July 4th are related to alcohol. Independence Day beats out other celebrated holidays such as New Year’s, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The NHTSA has got this down to a science by revealing the most dangerous time period to be on the road starts at 6:00 pm on July 3rd until midnight on July 5th. Back in 2013 during the Independence Day period, almost 42% of all the drivers in nighttime fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired. During the daytime (6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.), it was significantly lower at 13%. On average, a person was killed in an alcohol related crash every 52 minutes. That is a bit extreme and with a little bit of planning ahead of time or if you can avoid that whole time frame and not be on the road, that would help reduce the risk of accidents and becoming another statistic.
Now let’s change this discussion off road to driving on the water. Do you think that changes any of the laws? Although it’s on water, the federal BAC legal limit for operating a vessel under the influence is .08, so you better do your own research on state laws before you go. Just like DUI laws, drunken boating laws vary from place to place catching people off guard. As you may know, boating can be very expensive, so why do you want to add more costs from Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) / Boating Under Intoxication (BUI) fines?
The penalties for BWI’s can be just as steep as drunk driving, adding up to $7,500 dollars, depending on if you have any repeat offenses. Just as driving a car or motorcycle, you can be arrested for driving a boat, watercraft, or jet ski while consuming alcohol. To add more insult to injury, a BWI conviction can show up on your driving record would lead to increased insurance rates. Let’s not forget that there is the possibility your license can be suspended for up to 12 months.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating while intoxicated occurs in a greater percentage than driving an automobile while intoxicated. To take it one step further, if you’re under the influence of drugs and alcohol while boating, you are putting yourself in a world of hurt. When you do that, not only are you endangering your own life, but the lives of others around you. Doing that puts our friends with the blue lights hot on your tail. Besides safety and freedom, here are some good reasons why to avoid water activities while intoxicated:
- All vessels are controlled by people and water, which influences the boat’s path
- Alcohol use can hamper a person’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time
- Personal watercraft (jet ski’s, inner tubes, etc..) are harder to see than a larger boats
- Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion are “stressors” and have been known to intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
- Alcohol usage can increase fatigue and harm by the effects of cold-water immersion
It goes without saying that drunk driving is a problem on both roads and water ways. If you are going out to “par-taay” over the national holiday, you can keep check of yourself with a personal testing kit, such as an Alcomate device. Otherwise, we strongly suggest you should consider these safety precautions before taking to the roads:
- Have a designated driver or call a taxi if you need a ride home after consuming alcohol
- Report the drunk drivers you see to the police or other emergency personnel
- Do what you can to prevent your friends from drinking and driving
- Always wear a seatbelt, even if you are a passenger in a car
- Last but not least, plan a safe route back home before the activities begin.
However, as most people are aware of the deadly consequences of driving any vehicle while intoxicated, they may know less about the danger of using fireworks while intoxicated. Do I need to say that fireworks and alcohol are not a safe combination? Maybe as a suggestion, kind of like having a designated driver, you should have a designated person who hasn’t been drinking to set off the fireworks. That way, it will reduce the risk of any possible injuries.
Don’t get too carried away this Independence Day. It’s also important to remember that alcohol consumption will be enhanced by the heat. Please be responsible and if you do any drinking, have a designated sober driver take you home. Yes, go out and have a good time, but don’t ruin it. If you think having a single drink can’t do any harm, think again, especially if you are on the clock. Drinking on the job will not only get you wrote up, but you could get fired, or worse, depending on the line of work you do. We encourage all employers to have a drug and alcohol testing policy in place for situations like this. Using a device like our AlcoCheck Breath Alcohol Test could be very beneficial to your business. Safety is the number one concern for all.
We could also recommend the Alco-Screen Saliva Alcohol Test Strips for all employers who wish to periodically check for alcohol. This test is simple to perform and will reveal alcohol in most substances. Another good one is the QED Alcohol Saliva Test Kit that be used to check for BAC just a few minutes. Both are very good, but it depends on your method of choice. If you have any questions on the products we offer, please do not hesitate to speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable sales consultants by calling (888) 404-0020 weekdays from 8am to 4pm or email email@example.com anytime.