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Keep summer fun safe by watching alcohol intake

As summer heats up, Michiganders are urged to celebrate the season safely at gatherings and activities, especially where alcohol might be consumed. Remember to keep alcohol consumption in check and never drink and drive, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission urged.

“If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly,” MLCC Commissioner Dennis Olshove said. “Make this a great summer to remember for all the right reasons.”

Many summer activities can become dangerous when alcohol is involved. Don’t drink alcohol while swimming, boating or even shooting off a few fireworks, as there can be deadly risk factors.

“Don’t drink and swim,” MLCC Commissioner Geralyn Lasher said. “Never drink while watching the kids in the pool or at the lake. Having that margarita (or two) will slow your instinct to react if you’re needed in an emergency.”

Alcohol contributes to at least 20% of all adult deaths due to drowning each year; and as high as 41% for ages 15 to 29 years old. Alcohol impairs coordination, lessens the ability to react quickly and distorts depth perception, which can result in injuries from diving into shallow water; misjudging the depth of the water or strength of a current; and blacking out and slipping under the water.

Remember, before swimming —

— Wait awhile after drinking. Depending on how much you’re drinking, one single beverage takes about one to two hours to metabolize.

— Watch what you’re drinking. Alcohol by volume is a lot lower in a can of beer than the alcohol content in grain liquor or vodka.

— Watch your body temperature. Alcohol can cause your body temperature to become lower than normal, causing hypothermia if the water is cold.

As to boating, “boat sober, as drunk boating is not unlike drunk driving,” MLCC Commissioner Edward Toma said. “Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths.”

Michigan in 2020 had 181 boating accidents statewide, including 33 deaths, 20 drownings and almost $2.2 million in property damage. Those who boat under the influence may have their voyage terminated, the boat impounded and the operator arrested. Michigan law treats BUI similar to driving under the influence; the blood alcohol limit is .08%, matching the standard for drunk driving a car.

Remember —

— Alcohol use can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time;

— Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion — common boating environment “stressors” — intensify the effects of alcohol.

— Alcohol is dangerous for passengers, too. Intoxication can cause slips, falls overboard and other accidents.

This year-round boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign peaks on the Fourth of July holiday, unfortunately known for increased drinking, boating and deadly incidents.

The Independence Day celebration also brings in another hazard if drinking. “Alcohol and fireworks absolutely do not mix,” MLCC Commissioner Lee Gonzales said. “Having a drink or two impairs judgment and is especially dangerous when dealing with fireworks.”

If in charge of the fireworks show, remember —

— Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are extremely flammable. If using hand sanitizer, avoid getting burned with a firework mishap; switch to soap and water.

— Save the beer or cocktail until after the show and keep guests who are drinking alcohol well away from fireworks.

Then there’s the onset of summer temperatures. “Drinking alcohol in hot weather also has health risks,” MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi said. “The dangerous ways the sun, heat and overindulging in alcohol together affect our body can result in heat stroke and dehydration.”

Those who decide to drink in hot weather should remember —

— Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water and eat foods with high water content — lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

— Avoid sugary alcoholic drinks such as daiquiris, margaritas and piña coladas that can lead to dehydration.

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