December 18, 2010

Lessons Learned for a Safer Night Out

What can young adults do to stay safe at a bar or party? This is one of the questions that I am most often asked. Here are a few lessons that have been learned from doing this site that might help keep young adults safe.

Before you go out, have a game plan.
  • Before you leave your residence, you should know where you are going and where it is in relation to your home or other destination.
  • Think about what you could need and pack well. You should always leave home with and a fully-charged cell phone that has been programmed with phone numbers of friends you could call for a ride, local taxi services, and campus security. Be sure to bring a credit card or enough cash to get you home, and your I.D. Small change for a payphone is also not a bad idea. It is wise not to carry too much money or wear expensive jewelry.
  • Have a back-up plan for getting home safely. Property owners and bar staff may have the right to kick you out at any time for any reason. Friends might also change their plans, leaving you stranded. Can you get home?  Catching a ride with someone you don't really know is not an option!
 Always keep your safety in mind.
  • Avoid binge drinking and drugs. Being intoxicated compromises your judgment and puts you at a significantly higher risk for accidents or violence. You can help mitigate this risk by avoiding binge drinking and drugs. Try alternating drinks with soda or water, or drink something that contains less alcohol.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Don't accept drinks from anyone. Don't leave your drink unattended. These are easy avenues in which GHB or other drugs to be slipped into your drink. (Males are victims too!) If someone brings you a drink or passes you a bottle, politely decline. If you have to use the restroom, first finish your drink or give it to a sober friend to hold. (In a pinch, cover it with a napkin and bring it with you.) A friend who is intoxicated won't be able to keep a watchful eye over your drink.
  • Avoid putting your safety into the hands of friends who have been drinking.
    • Don't ride with someone who has been drinking. Call a cab, school escort or police department, a friend or a family member.
    • Make sure that you always have what you need on your person to get yourself home safely. Don't give your belongings to a friend to hold; you may become stranded if he/she leaves without you. If you don't want to carry a lot of stuff, try putting one credit card, your  I.D. and your keys in your pants pocket, then check your coat. You can even stash your cash in your shoe/sock. The point is, you don't know what the night will bring. You should always assume that you could get separated from your friends and be prepared.
  • Listen to your instincts. If your instincts are telling you not to do something, don’t! If your instincts are telling you that you are not in a safe environment, you should get away quickly and safely.
When you're ready to leave:
  • Account for everyone in your group directly. If someone tells you that a friend has left or has a ride home, try calling his cell phone. Even if someone just talked to him, call again. Plans often change at the last minute. You should speak with your friend directly to see if he is okay and to confirm that he has a safe way home.
  • If someone is missing, don't leave!  If your friend does not answer the phone, check all bathrooms, near the exits, and the last places where he was seen. Enlist bar security, if necessary. If you still cannot find him, report it to his parents and the police immediately. While it may be awkward or embarrassing, it could save a life.
  • If you are leaving early, be sure to tell someone. Make sure you have a safe ride home.

Before you go out, have a game plan!

4 comments:

sha said...

Excellent article.

I don't know how apropos this is to these cases, but there have been 10 feet found on the British Columbia and Washington shorelines since 2007. Most of the feet found have been of men and most are unidentified. I think it's definitely a mystery.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Tenth+severed+human+foot+found+Pacific+Northwest+beach/3982981/story.html

director said...

I know that I was roofied by taking shots that were delivered to us by a WAITRESS. After the fact, I wondered if someone had bought the drinks, handed them to the waitress, and asked if she'd deliver them, or if the waitress was involved in the roofie-ing. I don't know. Regardless, be careful.

Lisa said...

@ director,

I'm so sorry this happened to you. Thank you so much for sharing and for highlighting this very important point. Accepting a drink from someone is something that is often not even on our radar in terms of safety. I think it is tempting to think that the sort of person who would do this would somehow seem weird, and so we'd have some warning. Thank you for illustrating that this is not the case!

Lawana said...

Lisa-

Great information and so very vital for men and woman to know! I plan on passing this info on to all I know, both young and old, who may frequent going to bars.

director - thank you for sharing your story as well, I have watched two recent CSI (Las Vegas) episodes, one in which the bartender was involved in the roofie-ing and one in which it was someone who bought a drink for someone else. Although I know it's a television show, it did enlighten me to be very careful! Your post has confirmed my enlightenment.

I think many young students may take a "free" drink because of money concerns and may only see it as one less they have to pay for but, in reality, they may pay dearly for that "free" drink.

Be careful!