Tourist Brain Can Be Deadly on Vacation

A University of Windsor professor is warning people not to be the victims of "tourist brain" over March Break.

Dr. Chris Houser has worked for years with researchers in Texas and Australia on the dangers of beaches near resort areas.

He says people often think a drowning on vacation is an isolated incident, but there are many common factors.

Houser says the effect of "tourist brain" is that people ignore clear warning signs.

"Even if there was a flag flying or there was a sign to suggest the currents were dangerous, people believed that if there was an access point, if there were other people on the beach and in the water and in particular if there was a hotel built there, it must be safe."

He says the kinds of things people do on vacation just add to the danger.

"Then when you start to add in the heat the relaxation the alcohol, then people start to make very bad judgements about what are the conditions and they put themselves into a very dangerous condition."

Houser says there is a key factor that can make you safer.

"The most important thing to consider is swimming at or choosing a beach that has a lifeguard present. Lifeguards are responsible for the majority of lifesaving on that beach.  Most drownings occur on beaches where there are no lifeguards present or during times when the lifeguards aren't present."

He says, because people have invested a significant amount of money and time to get to a sunny warm location, they are determined to get in the water regardless of the danger.