What are the Dangers of Drinking on the 4th of July?

Danger of binge drinking alcohol & beer in San Diego

Nothing says Fourth of July like fireworks, barbecue, and cakes decorated to look like American flags. But another staple of Independence Day parties—alcoholic beverages—can be dangerous if not handled in moderation. And because celebrations for this holiday typically last all day and into the night, it’s even more important to understand the risks of prolonged daytime drinking.

Daytime drinking is a recipe for dehydration

Proper hydration should be a priority for any outdoor activity, but don’t assume your body is getting enough H2O from alcoholic beverages, even those with low alcohol content. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urination that speeds up the dehydration process, and it also lowers your body’s tolerance for heat while raising blood pressure—the perfect recipe for heat stroke and other serious health issues.

If you’re not going to avoid alcohol entirely, the best thing you can do is follow each alcoholic drink with a tall glass of water—this will also help slow your consumption of alcohol and its effects on your body. And, of course, don’t forget to eat throughout the day to avoid the effects of alcohol on an empty stomach.

You can lose track of alcohol consumption

Unlike having a few drinks after dinner, it’s much more difficult to keep track of how much you’re drinking during daylong celebrations. Warm weather exacerbates the situation if you’re drinking to satisfy thirst because you might consume drinks faster than usual. It takes your body about an hour to process one drink, so that’s a good consumption limit to aim for and easy to achieve if you alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.

Daytime drinking raises the risk of sunburn

One of the most surprising side effects of prolonged day drinking is the increased risk of sunburn. Alcohol metabolizes into a compound called acetaldehyde, which can make your body more vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays. Additionally, intoxication has a tendency to lower awareness of important things to remember like reapplying sunscreen.

Getting drunk during the day is an invitation to injury

Aside from the direct physical effects of daytime drinking, indirect effects from prolonged intoxication can be just as dangerous—or even deadly. Summer parties and barbecues are often environments ripe with accident potential, including burns from hot grills, cuts from dropped knives, and injuries from playing games and sports – especially when judgment and coordination are diminished by the consumption of alcohol. The risk of drowning also significantly increases with alcohol consumption.

Indirect dangers of binge drinking

A less-obvious indirect danger of drinking to excess is behavioral—with political tensions at an all-time high, a patriotic celebration may invite many to voice their opinions, popular or unpopular. Even without politics, intoxicated emotions can run high on any subject, leading to arguments and even physical fights.

Drunk driving on the Fourth of July

The most obvious risk is drunk driving. After drinking all day, driving puts everyone at risk, including the driver, the passengers, and other drivers on the road. The best thing to do is to plan ahead for a designated driver who will not drink at all, but if you know you’re going to be drinking then arrange for a reliable transportation service to get you to and from your holiday celebrations safely.

When drinking alcohol during the day, moderation is key

You can still enjoy your Fourth of July celebrations even if you drink moderately to mitigate all these risks. But if you find it difficult or impossible to celebrate without alcohol, or if you regularly consume more than you intend to, you may have an alcohol problem.

There are many available resources to provide support and answer questions if you’re worried about your alcohol consumption. Please ask for help if you think you need it. Give us a call at (858) 784-7867.