For a lot of students, college is your first experience living without supervision — and that means it’s time to party. If you’re attending a school with a rich party culture, and you plan to get down on Friday nights, here are some things you need to do to stay safe:
1. Know your limits.
It’s simple: if you can’t drink responsibly, you shouldn’t be drinking. Alcohol is a substance that can be easily abused, and with too much of it, it can make you really sick. Vomiting, seeing spots, and feeling lightheaded are all signs it’s time to switch to water or another non-alcoholic drink.
2. Stick with your friends.
Safety in groups definitely applies to college parties. Your pals can help you keep an eye on your drink, make sure you don’t leave with that creepy guy (or gal) who’s been following you around all night, and keep you in line so you don’t do something you’ll regret. The more of you, the better — so find some people you trust, and hit the parties with them. It can also be good to let a few friends who might be staying home this weekend know where you’ll be, and have them check up on you if you don’t return safely when the night is over.
3. Try a safety app.
There are tons of applications available for iPhone and Android that can help you stay safe and connected while you’re out and about. Some connect to emergency services, while others will get you in contact with a few friends. Find out what works best for you, and download a few of these. If you ever need them, you’ll be glad you did.
4. Keep an eye on your drink.
If you lose track of your cup (even for a few seconds), it’s time for a new one. College parties in some places are full of “roofies” — and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Do you want to avoid hook-ups this weekend? Are you trying to make sure you don’t end up black-out drunk? Setting ground rules (and sticking to them) will ensure your safety — and don’t be afraid to have your friends hold you to them!
6. Girls: Wear a cross-body bag or backpack.
Having your purse (and possibly identity) stolen is not something you want to deal with. Keep everything close to you by wearing a bag that won’t come off, like a cross-body or even a small backpack. It can be easier to dance with something smaller like a clutch, but it’s too easy to set it down and forget about it!
7. Designate a driver.
Be sure that before the night begins, you and your friends decide on a designated driver — whether you have to rotate each weekend or you have an underage/non-drinking buddy that constantly has DD duty. Keep yourself, your friends, and those around you safe by pledging not to drink and drive. If you do find yourself in a position where everyone is intoxicated — call a cab, Uber, or a local friend. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is never okay.
8. Have some privacy.
While it’s good to let a few friends know where you’ll be before heading out, posting about your whereabouts on public social media makes it too easy for stalkers to find you. Try not to document your nightly adventures online — but if you must share everywhere you go, make sure your accounts are private, and that your posts are only viewable by people you actually know and trust.
Above all, use common sense if you choose to take advantage of the party culture in college. If your friend looks sick, or they’re passed out — get them help before it’s too late. If a potential hook-up seems sketchy, he or she probably is. Keep yourself safe when you head to school this semester by following these tips — and make sure your friends do, too.