You don’t have to be an expert to know that water and alcohol don’t mix, not when you’re swimming in the former and drinking the latter. So when I hear about Floatopias – throngs of people on rafts and inner tubes paddling out in a bay or the ocean to get drunk – I know what’s going to happen next. It’s only a matter of time before somebody drowns, and then everybody says, why didn’t they put a stop to it?
An story on msnbc.com by health writer Melissa Dahl talks about the Floatopia phenomena around the country.
The most recent Floatopia is in San Diego, where the San Diego City Council finally put a stop to it.
Floatopias started a few years ago when some students at University of California Santa Barbara decided it would be good fun to have a giant beach party with everybody going out in rafts and other floaties — with a lot of alcohol mixed in. Local authorities thought this was a really bad idea and have been trying to stop it ever since. Then, some young people organized a Floatopia in San Diego. San Diego’s Floatopia was entirely in response to the beach alcohol ban. The whole purpose was to paddle out into deep water and get drunk in order to flout the ban.
Not very smart, and here’s why: alcohol dramatically increases the risk of drowning. So says the Centers for Disease Control:
“Alcohol use is involved in up to half of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation and about one in five reported boating fatalities. Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.”
People with a blood alcohol level of .10 have about ten times the risk of dying on the water as people who haven’t been drinking. Also, men are much more likely to drown then women because they drink more and take greater risks.
So — get drunk, get in the water, bake in the sun, play the knucklehead, fall off your raft, repeat… If you do this enough times, the outcome should surprise no one.