Safe, sound and sunkissed

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(Graphic/Dior Brown)

Sarah Mountain

Arts & Living Editor

With spring break just days away and many Troy students heading to Northwest Florida to enjoy the beach for a week, this Destin native thought it would be good to remind you all of the best ways to enjoy the beach safely. 

First and foremost, do some research and plan a rough itinerary for the week. Knowing the area will not only help you plan, but will also make it easier to get around once you’re there.

The Panhandle is home to some truly beautiful beaches, but even more so than that, it is home to some seriously strict policemen who take their job very seriously. Arrests for underage drinking spike during spring break season, so to put it nicely – underage drinking is not worth the arrest record. 

Police officers not only patrol the roads and clubs, but also the beaches, so even overage students should be careful about their consumption. 

First of all, drinking on the beach is a balancing act. The heat and the sun will dehydrate you just as fast as the alcohol does, and the combination of those factors can team up to cause alcohol and sun poisoning. 

So, unless the emergency room is where you want to be, make sure to drink water throughout the day. 

Speaking of the sun, the UV rays in the Panhandle are ridiculously high. Tanning oil is not necessary to get some color, so please bear in mind the fact that sunscreen still lets you tan, it just does so more safely. 

50-year-old-you will be thankful you used it.

Should it be warm enough to get in the water, the rip currents could become a very real threat. It occurred to me that non-Floridians are not taught at age 5 how to escape them, so remember to swim sideways out — do not fight the current. 

This should go without saying but follow the flag system at the beach. If it shows serious conditions – yellow, red, double red or purple flags –  the risk of the water is not worth it. 

It is illegal to go on the sand dunes due to the environmental damages that it causes; you will not even get a warning on this one, so do not even try it.

Not to mention, many public beaches in the PCB to Pensacola region do not have lifeguards on duty regularly, so it is better not to press your luck in dangerous situations.

If you spend the night in, do not go in the water at night for any reason. The Gulf of Mexico is home to many a shark, and they come out at night, so if you are out to look at the stars, stay on the sand.

For my night on the town people, spring break destinations have some great nightlife to them. 

Follow the regular protocols of do not accept drinks from strangers, and do not leave your drink unattended. Actually, I would advise against drugging people, but that idea is yet to be universally received, so until then, ladies and gents watch your intake and keep an eye on that cup.

Being from Troy, we are used to the Double Branch bus being our way to and home from the bars, but in the Panhandle, they have the magic of Uber. Take advantage of this and please do not drink and drive, we want to see you back after the break.

I am always a proponent of sharing your locations with your friends/spring break group. If safety in numbers fails, knowing where your friends go if they disappear is definitely important.

When going out and about, especially to bars, keep a photo or copy of your ID card in case it gets lost or stolen. Do not bring any extra cards or cash that you will not need, for it will likely also not make it home with you.

Last thing, and this one comes from the bottom of my heart, clean up after yourselves. The amount of trash left on the beaches after spring break is atrocious every year. 

As someone who has seen many a long weekend and extended break in Destin, the locals are tired of having to assemble cleaning crews and relief efforts to restore our beaches afterward. 

Be respectful of the fact that you are a visitor as it is home to not only local people, but also a ton of marine life.

At the end of the day, enjoy your time off. It is a great opportunity to destress and take a breather, but come back to the school you love in one piece without causing any harm.

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