Staying safe at senior week

The+ominous+%22Red+Solo+Cup%22+seen+in+countless+hands+in+photos+at+parties.+Drinking+at+senior+week+and+in+general+is+illegal+and+when+used+irresponsibly%2C+could+result+in+bad+decisions+and+death.+

Elizabeth Harmison

The ominous “Red Solo Cup” seen in countless hands in photos at parties. Drinking at senior week and in general is illegal and when used irresponsibly, could result in bad decisions and death.

Senior Week can be a great time to have fun with your best friends at the beach before you go your separate ways and off to college. Ocean City has seen this tradition for decades as a celebration of successful graduation, but what begins as fun and games can quickly turn into destruction and even death.

For many students, Senior Week is one of the first times they are left with no adult supervision and have complete freedom over their actions. Unfortunately, what a naive student may think is a harmless choice can lead to loss.

One example of this is the near-death occurrence of a recent graduate at senior week last year. The senior, who wishes to remain anonymous, began drinking alcohol in the morning on the beach and continued to drink throughout the day. At a party that night, the senior became so intoxicated that he “didn’t remember how he got home.”

After vomiting all night, it was clear that the senior was in critical condition and needed to be taken to the hospital. Once at the hospital the senior went through “12 bags of IV fluid, one bag of potassium, one bag of magnesium, and had a morphine drip from the intense chest pain from vomiting so much.”

This senior was lucky to have survived because of the decision his friends made to take him to the hospital. If they hadn’t, the senior very well may have died.

Obviously the best advice to stay safe at senior week would be to simply stay away from alcohol. However, “we know that [seniors] participate in activities that we hope they would not participate in at 18-years-old,” college counselor Carrie Siemsen said.

There are a few more realistic tips and manageable ways to keep yourself and others out of bad situations during Senior Week. Senior Week should be the celebration of the culmination of the four years of hard work during high school. It can be a fun, exciting time by making smart decisions and following a few simple tips:

  1. Don’t be obnoxiously loud. According to The Examiner, the noise ordinance in Ocean City is very strict and in effect 24/7. Police use this as an excuse to search rental properties and vehicles, so keep the music down and remember there’s no need to scream “Class of 2016 we in this b****” off the balcony.
  2. Remember it is illegal to drink alcohol. The drinking age in Maryland is 21. Violations are for underage drinking, drinking in public, or carrying an open container. Ocean City Police have seen it all and will issue citations that, according to MarylandLawyer.com, come with a $500 fine and MVA penalties. Using a fake ID will result in 12 points on your license.
  3. Don’t let random people stay with you. According to JuneWeek.com, hotels and rental units will evict students that cram more people into the room than have registered, and they will not return the security deposit.
  4. Be smart about car use. Obviously, always wear a seatbelt because it’s the law, and the police will ticket. Overloading vehicles and standing in the back of pick-ups or Jeeps is dangerous and asking for trouble. According to Rob Hodges, class of ‘15,  it is best to park the car for the week and use the bus to get around.
  5. Adhere to pedestrian laws. Most pedestrian accidents during Senior Week involve alcohol and Ocean Highway, a 9-lane highway that is very dangerous to cross. Use the crosswalks and don’t assume when you step off the bus it is stopped at a red light. Wait for the light to turn red before crossing the highway.
  6. Get enough sleep. Shoot for eight hours of sleep a night so you can revitalize your body and recharge for the next day. In an article about senior week, Pauline Wallin, a licensed psychologist said, “You can’t run on no sleep. At some point, take a nap. Sleep deprivation can affect your judgment and can make you prone to accidents.”
  7. Be careful with tattoos and piercings. It might seem like a great idea to tattoo your new girl or guy’s name on your backside, but take a step away from the tattoo parlor. According to WebMD’s skin division, there are many questions you should ask a parlor to make sure it is clean and safe. Are sterile needles being used? What training does the artist have? What type of sterilization processes are used in the facility? Keep these questions and more in mind before you get that jewel on your belly button… or anywhere else.
  8. Don’t sleep places other than your house/hotel. Even if you get evicted from where you are staying, it is not a good idea to try to sleep in your car or on the beach- both are illegal. According to HCDrugFree.org, sleeping in your car is $25 per person in the car, and the Ocean City Police will get you for it.
  9. Have mommy make you meals. This tip is more about keeping your health and wallet safe. Eating out for every meal isn’t smart for staying healthy or maintaining your budget. Alumnus of senior week Sierra Ficca, class of ‘13, recommends parents make meals that can be frozen. Love your mom’s veggie lasagna? Ask her to donate a pan to the cause. Then, all you have to do while you’re vacationing is heat it up.
  10. Buddy system is key. Remember the buddy system from elementary school? They really gave us some great advice back then. In a town filled with thousands of potentially inebriated visitors, it’s important you have someone with you at all times if something goes wrong. “It would be a bad idea to go anywhere by yourself because there are all different types of people at senior week,” Elizabeth Driver, class of ‘15, said.

Do free bus passes sound good to you? A program called Play It Safe sponsors special alcohol and drug-free events during June honoring high school graduates. You can participate in free events in Ocean City throughout the month of June like mini golf, laser tag, and karaoke with hundreds of others. The best part is that just by participating you can get a bus pass for the entire week for only five dollars.

Why not take part in fun, free events and keep safe at the same time? Senior Week can be the time of your life if you act responsibly, take care of yourself and look out for your friends. The most important tip is to have fun, and don’t let your week be ruined by bad decision-making.

Lilly Stannard is an In-focus Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com