Staying safe over BYU spring holiday

BYU sophomore Whitney Wilcox takes a break from school to hike in St. George. All students should exercise caution while vacationing over BYU’s spring holiday. (Whitney Wilcox)

BYU is giving students a spring holiday this year, with no classes scheduled for Friday, March 17. While the warmer weather welcomes road trips and vacations for many students, the University advised students to keep safety a priority. BYU students give their opinions on how to stay safe over the break.

Drive safely

Holidays often present more dangers on the road since more people are traveling. BYU pre-med student Mark Brown found this to be true last Thanksgiving.

Brown and his brother flew into Las Vegas after their trip to Pennsylvania. It was around 11 p.m. Brown and his brother originally planned to stay in a hotel and drive back to Provo early the next morning. When they heard about a coming snowstorm, they decided to drive back that night.

“We were feeling okay,” Brown said. “We thought, ‘Let’s just try and beat the snow.'”

When Brown and his brother got to Beaver, they realized the snow had arrived there first.

“A lot happened at once,” Brown said. “The road merged from three lanes to two. My brother was going ridiculously too fast, and it was slippery.”

The car skidded off the road, spinning around and hitting a road sign. Luckily, the two brothers were OK and there were no other cars involved.

Brown said he is paranoid about driving in bad weather because of the accident.

“My brother and I are thinking about going somewhere (for the spring holiday),” Brown said. “But we haven’t really made any solid plans. If there’s any kind of bad weather, though, there’s no way I’m going.”

Family studies major Whitney Wilcox thinks driving the speed limit is important.

“I went on a road trip (during a school break) with some friends. The guy that was driving was the worst driver,” Wilcox said. “I was terrified the whole time we were in the car. He got pulled over for speeding, but wasn’t given a ticket. I thought it was lucky we didn’t get in an accident.”

BYU junior Drew Slik is an avid road-tripper. He said dangerous things can happen even when driving at a safe speed.

“Once while driving home from Vegas, I-15 was crazy foggy by Payson,” Slik said. “We were going 20 mph under the speed limit, but still almost hit a deer that appeared out of nowhere in the fog.”

Avoid dangerous picture taking

Slik said he’s seen a few dangerous things happen when friends try to get good pictures.

“A friend of mine was climbing up a high hoodoo to get a photo,” Slik said. “But when he was climbing down, he slipped off and found himself hanging out 15–20 feet above the ground. The edge he was hanging from gave way and he fell. He miraculously only bruised the bottoms of his feet.”

Another time Slik and some friends were in Moab. His friends wanted to rappel down Corona Arch, so they decided to free climb up the arch.

“While free climbing, one of the guys who is a novice climber realized he bit off more than he could chew,” Slik said. “At that point, he couldn’t just back out; he had to make it to the top or fall and get hurt.”

Slik said things were “real hairy.”

“Thankfully, he was able to push through the fear and safely made it to the top and then safely rappelled down,” Slik said. “Honestly, it was probably the best photo taken on any of my trips.”

BYU junior Drew Slik captures a picture of his friend rappelling from Corona Arch in Moab. (Drew Slik)

Wilcox said social media has made spring break a much bigger deal than it used to be.

“People always want to show off and do the coolest thing,” Wilcox said. “Adrenaline junkies are much more norm now than casually documenting a trip.”

Wilcox said a lot of people subscribe to the saying, “Pictures or it didn’t happen.” She said many students do dangerous things to document their fun vacations.

“I’d much rather keep on seeing and doing priceless things forever, rather than getting one cool picture for a large price,” Wilcox said.

Drink and pack plenty of water

On another of Slik’s trips, he and some friends were hiking to Zebra Slot Canyon outside of Escalante.

“We were hiking on a trail that wasn’t very popular or well-marked,” Slik said. “We got off course for a few miles and ran out of water.”

Slik said the group all got pretty dehydrated but made it back to the car OK.

Other safety tips

University Police Lt. Steve Messick said the warmer weather can present other dangers.

“Because of the warmer weather, people are going to be out later hours,” Messick said. “It’s a good idea if you’re going to be out late after dark, be out with somebody else.”

Messick also said theft drastically increases as the weather warms up.

“Some of our thieves will start being out a little bit more in the warm weather, looking for items of opportunity,” Messick said. “Make sure all property is secured well. Make sure bikes are locked with a quality lock.”

He reminded students to be smart about safety.

“Keep yourself in safe places, doing safe things,” Messick said.

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