NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Carnival season in the Big Easy is steeped in fun, but medical professionals said revelers should also make sure their celebration doesn't land them in a hospital ER.
By mid-afternoon Friday, tourists in town for Carnival had already populated Bourbon Street in large numbers, and many eagerly shared what they see as the necessary ingredients for a great time.
"Hand Grenades," screamed one young man about a drink he likes.
"Yeah, there you go, just anything. I mean, as long as you just live. You just live," said Kelsey Paxton, another young tourist.
"The people, food and of course some good drinks," said Crystal Wills of Dallas.
Year after year, balconies in the French Quarter are filled with revelers who have added alcohol to their fun. But doctors at University Medical Center in New Orleans said balconies and inebriation are not a good mix.
"That's a lethal combination. So, it's not just being elevated on a balcony but it's elevated on a float," said Dr. Peter DeBlieux, Chief Medical Officer at UMC, the region's Level 1 Trauma Center.
He's trained in emergency medicine and has seen the consequences of drunkenness and height.
"We've had people who have lost their lives falling from balconies, falling from floats," said DeBlieux.
Paxton said she enjoyed being on a balcony Thursday and she didn't ignore safety while indulging.
"I just love like being able to see all the people, all the people are so happy here. For sure, I'm not getting too drunk here," she said.
Dr. DeBlieux also urges caution along the parade route. He said lives have been lost when parade-watchers get caught under moving floats, and he added that ladders also pose a risk for serious injury.
"And you certainly should not be intoxicated and on a ladder with small children. That's very dangerous," he said.
He urges parade-goers to wear eye protection, like sunglasses.
"What we see most commonly in the Emergency Department is alcohol intoxication. The second most common thing we see are minor lacerations and eye injuries due to flying beads and toys and things like that are coming off the floats and near somebody who isn't watching the parade, right? So, you're talking to a friend and get distracted and something hits you in your face. It either cuts you or injures your eyes," DeBlieux said.
And even though the Carnival season is about having a good time in New Orleans, you always want to make sure you don't drink so much that you forget the importance of remaining safe.
"If you're going to drink, drink in moderation, and if you're going to drink, don't put yourself up on a high object like a balcony with too many other people on it, and don't put yourself on a float," DeBlieux said.
"You only live once. You come to Bourbon Street you have a good time," said a male tourist.
"We don't ramp up for Carnival season, we don't ramp up for Jazz Fest, we don't ramp up for French Quarter Fest. We're aware. We are well-rehearsed and practiced for these patients," said DeBlieux.