NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN) offers tips for Sailors in advance of spring vacations.
The biggest stereotypes about spring break revolve around alcohol abuse. While movies and television may glamorize binge drinking, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that this behavior can be deadly. They define binge drinking as a male consuming five or more alcoholic beverages or a woman consuming four or more alcoholic beverages within a two-hour period. They report findings that have alarming implications for Sailors:
* The prevalence of drinking among men is higher than the prevalence among women.
* About 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by those under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinks.
* Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
Given that there are a large number of males and younger adults in the Navy, these statistics show there is reason for concern. Nonetheless, Sailors have plenty of smart options, according to Dan Dray, a traffic and recreation safety specialist at NAVSAFECEN.
"We know that the young Sailors and Marines are going to go out and have fun, but the biggest asset they have in terms of safety is their peers. Everyone carries a cell phone these days, so if you've had too much to drink, call a friend to come pick you up or take advantage of the safe ride programs that many ships offer," Dray said.
Training and awareness appear to be paying off. The Naval Safety Center tracks whether alcohol was a factor in fatal mishaps. The recently completed winter safety campaign ran from Dec. 1, 2011, through Feb. 29, 2012. This season there were two fatalities where alcohol was a contributing factor. Both were motor vehicle mishaps. While those are two too many, when compared to winter 2010-2011 when there were six alcohol-related fatalities and winter 2009-2010 when there were nine, it's an obvious improvement and a trend consistently moving in the right direction.
While impaired driving is an obvious danger associated with over-consumption of alcohol, there are other problems as well. Aside from health risks such as high blood pressure, stroke, neurological damage and liver disease, the CDC reports that alcohol abuse is a major factor in sexual assaults. Eliminating this criminal behavior is a major goal in the Navy and Marine Corps according to a recent blog post detailing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus' 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative.
The safety portion of this initiative states in part that the naval services will "aggressively prevent sexual assaults from occurring, support sexual assault victims, and hold offenders accountable."
Using alcohol responsibly and maintaining situational awareness are important steps toward achieving this goal, Dray said.
Safety is one of the five areas of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.
For more information about responsible use of alcohol, visit www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen.
For more news from Naval Safety Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsc/.