Spring break season is finally here, and thousands of college students are swapping their down jackets for bikinis and heading to resort spots.
Amid the crush of alcohol-fueled beach parties, it might be easy to forget about staying safe. Here's a list of easy-to-use gadgets and apps that aim to help you have fun and be safe.
1. Drinking responsibly.
College students can unfortunately be pretty immune to the idea of doing anything responsibly or in moderation, especially when alcohol is involved. But a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level could result in a DUI or worse.
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Super tech-savvy drinkers may want to check out Breathometer, the world's first smartphone breathalyzer. (CEO and founder Charles Yim got over $1 million in funding from his appearance on the show Shark Tank and from an Indiegogo campaign.) The breathalyzer plugs straight into your iPhone or Android's headphone jack, and is priced at $49.
Other options that don't require a separate device are smartphone apps. If you're an Android user, AlcoDroid can help you keep track of all the drinks you've consumed – if you choose to log them, that is. iPhone users can download Last Call, a blood alcohol level calculator that also lets you call a taxi, or a local lawyer if you need one.
Although the results from BAC calculators are only estimates, they'll be able to help you pace your drinking and figure out whether or not you should get behind the wheel. (You probably shouldn't.)
2. Buddy system apps.
Whether it's checking out a bar or even hitting the restrooms, it's great to have someone with you to watch your back.
Cyber buddies are better than none: Circle of 6 is an app for iPhone and Android users that lets you message your six close friends if you feel like you're in trouble. You can send your GPS location with just a tap, ask a friend to pick you up or send a text that says "Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption."
Another good app to check out is SafeKidZone, which features include a panic button and a GPS tracking system for everyone in your family.
3. Testing for drugs in your drink.
It's a lot easier for someone to slip a drug into your drink than you might think.
To combat that possibility, several companies have crafted pocket-sized coasters that can test for the presence of incapacitating drugs in your drink. Just a drop of your drink on these coasters will tell you if your drink has been drugged. Texas State Technical College recently handed out 10,000 of these coasters to its students, just in time for spring break.
DrinkSavvy's drug-detecting cups and straws are also starting to make their presence known, starting in Massachusetts. These special cups and straws look and function just like normal drinkware, but they'll instantly change color if they detect such a drug in your drink.
4. Drunk text prevention.
Waking up to a slew of drunken texts after a night you can't remember is embarrassing and all too common. Good thing there are a bunch of self-censoring apps we can use.
Drunk Text Savior for iPhones will analyze your text message for spelling mistakes and swear words. A warning meter will let you know if you should click send, and a save option will let you save the message for later.
Stupid Phonecalls Blocker for Android users will only block one number, but it will block all incoming and outgoing calls, and incoming texts.
5. Getting home safe.
If you're looking for a designated driver, look no further than your smartphone.
StearClear (for iPhone and Android) and BeMyDD (for Android only) both provide pickup services: if you've already driven your car out that night, the app will dispatch two drivers to take you and your car home. BeMyDD also offers personal driver services that will drive you wherever you want, in your own car, at an hourly rate.
You can also rely on Uber to connect with drivers in the area. It's an on-demand service, which means you don't need to make a reservation, and you get picked up within minutes. Depending on which city you're in, you'll have different options for rates and vehicles.