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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Safety key to spring break

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URI Health Services promoting sensible approach to vacation week

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 11, 2011 – Just days away from spring break, students at the University of Rhode Island and other universities across the country are getting ready to put down the books and prep for a week of fun and relaxation.

While it is a time when many students cut loose and forget the stresses in their lives for a little while, Roger Jadosz, a health educator and registered nurse in URI’s Health Services Education office, said it is important for any young adult to heed safe practices when they go away for spring break.

“The students have been working hard, and they are looking forward to the break to get away and chill out a little bit,” Jadosz said. “They know when they come back, there are only six weeks to go in the semester, and it’s going to be a stressful time. In many ways, spring break is a positive release, as long as they go about having fun in a safe manner.”

With that in mind, URI’s Health Services Education office is hosting a beach party in the Memorial Union Wednesday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the first floor in Union Square. There will be mocktails, skin screenings, tips for travel and food safety and give-aways.

“Spring break always starts out as a positive time,” Jadosz said. “Whether you are going away to Mexico or staying home in Cranston, there is excitement for a break. It’s critical to have an open mind regarding safety, regardless of what you are doing for the week.”

The Health Services Education staff has been providing students with a list of top tips for a fun and safe vacation. They are:

1. Enjoy your time. Don’t cross the line.

2. Practicing abstinence may help avoid emotional heartbreak and is 100 percent effective against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

3. Think before you act and be smart about sex. You can practice safer sex and bring condoms (even if you don’t think you will need them).

4. Have a designated driver every time out.

5. Use the buddy system. Never leave a friend alone.

6. Alcohol and drugs impair your judgment.

7. Never leave your drink unattended. Protect yourself from the possibility of date rape drugs.

8. Protect your skin from sun damage.

9. Drink lots of water to hydrate yourself.

Travel advisories to popular destinations such as Mexico, the Caribbean and St. Thomas will be provided by Health Services staff. National stories like the disappearance of Natalee Holloway have raised awareness of young adults traveling abroad. But there are other areas of concern related to spring break – such as sun safety, sex and alcohol awareness – that need more reminders.

“One way young adults get themselves into bad situations is when they find themselves out of their familiar element,” Jadosz said. “We don’t often think about possible dangers from the sun, the water or even something like using an ATM machine by yourself in a strange area. Educating yourself about these topics ahead of time can go a long way toward preventing potentially bad situations.”

As part of Wednesday’s beach party, students can receive gift bags that will contain suntan lotion, aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, condoms, sunglasses and more. There will also be various groups providing information on a wide range of topics. A representative from the Rhode Island Tourism Council will be on hand to discuss possible activities for those students staying in the area next week.

“Many of the things we cover are things that, at 18 or 19 years old, a kid is not necessarily going to think about,” Jadosz said. What we find when we talk with students is that they will often say, ‘Thanks for the information. I will keep that in mind. That’s what our goal is, to get students to think about possible situations and make smarter, more informed decisions.”