Floatopia: When alcohol and water don’t mix


Get drunk, get in an inner-tube, paddle out to deep water -- what could go wrong?


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.

This entry was posted in Alcohol, Alcohol abuse, Binge drinking, Prevention, Substance abuse and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Floatopia: When alcohol and water don’t mix

  1. Eddie V says:

    Insurance premiums drop for young men when they reach 30, because the death rate for that group drops dramatically at that point. By then, they’ve put a lot of stupid, death-defying behavior behind them. In this case, I think we have an obligation to put a halt to this behavior for those too stupid to recognize its inherent risks. Or use it as a litmus test for the Darwin Awards.

  2. Robert H. says:

    Good story.
    Yesterday (7/26/2010) the city council passed an ordinance banning consumption of alcohol by “bathers,” which means anyone swimming, floating or using pool toys to stay afloat. They passed an emergency version of the ordinance, to take effect immediately.
    If the floatopiards had simply focused more on relaxing and having “a few beers,” it would still be legal. But it was all about getting drunk. Last Labor Day weekend, the floatopiards accounted for 22 percent of all citations and arrests at the beaches, even though they made up one-fifth of one percent of the holiday weekend beach crowd. Their behavior got the attention of the cops, much sooner than it got the attention of Mr. Darwin.
    One correction: Floating drinking parties were a staple on Mission Bay, dating back before the alcohol ban. They just weren’t called “Floatopia.” Once alcohol was banned on the sand, they grew in popularity; they weren’t “entirely in response to the beach alcohol ban.” For documentation of the events that happened prior to the beach alcohol ban, see The Full Extension’s website.

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