As the Waterline has been discussing safety this summer, there is a common theme: excessive or, in some cases, any alcohol consumption makes already dangerous activities even more dangerous.
Adult Sailors 21 years of age or older have earned the privilege to consume alcohol, in moderation, in appropriate settings. Note however, how the word privilege is used it is not a right. If one is in any position of responsibility, then drinking is not a good idea.
According to the Naval Safety Center, alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to the deaths and dismemberments of Sailors and Marines every year. During the 101 Critical Days of Summer, when people are at most risk for mishaps affecting life and limb, the need to remain vigilant becomes perfectly clear.
"Dehydration and summer heat increase the effects of alcohol," said Jim Peake, with Naval Support Activity Washington's safety office. "With these effects you could make a decision that can cost you your life."
Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system in a variety of ways by definition, alcohol itself is a drug. According to the Naval Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention office, "...alcohol has the same sedative effect as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, and it is toxic. It can create physical tolerance (the need for increasing quantities to obtain the same effect) and dependence."
The impact of alcohol is perfectly clear, and its reach is far and wide: Heavy drinking can raise the risk for health related problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, birth defects and overall mortality. Drinking also plays a role in about one-third of all suicides and child abuse cases, as well as one-half of all homicides.
Over half of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are transmitted by drunk partners, and in 67 percent of all unplanned pregnancies at least one partner had been drinking. In 2009, 32 percent of car accident fatalities nationwide had a responsible party who was over the legal limit.
"Alcohol, even in small quantities, impairs our decision making and is a significant factor in all accident categories," said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in his 2012 Summer Safety address. "So before taking your first sip, think ahead and have a sensible plan; work together and remember never to drink and drive; remember to always be safe."
So with these statistics in mind, what can be done by those in the Navy family to reduce these statistics? Two prevailing theories have been promoted by commands and both involve the "numbers": the 0-1-2 recommendation and the 0-0-1-3 recommendation.
The 0-1-2 recommendation, or the "Domino" strategy, is simple: it dictates, but is not the final word, on the amount one can responsibly drink. Those guidelines advocate a 0-1-2 approach: Zero drinks for people who are under 21, operating any type of vehicle, pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding, recovering alcoholics or chemically dependent, and using certain medications, no more than one standard drink per day for women and no more than two standard drinks per day for men.
The 0-0-1-3 recommendation is similar, but somewhat different: zero drinks if you're under age, zero drinks if you're driving, one drink per hour and three drinks per event. This does not assume one can drink three drinks at one bar and call that the "event" before barhopping and starting the process over again.
These are not hard and fast rules, but instead are simply guidelines intended to remind everyone that by simply thinking ahead, making and sticking to a plan, alcohol mishaps can be prevented. Remember that the first thing that alcohol affects is one's judgment, so a plan made ahead of time can be vital.
For more information about alcohol awareness visit the Naval Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention website at www.public.navy.mil/ bupers-npc/support/nadap/.