Staying safe on a night out
When you go out, there are a few things you should think about so you can make the most of your nights out at uni and stay safe, especially if alcohol's involved.
Before you leave
Where you're going, what's playing and who you'll meet are probably some of your top thoughts when you're getting ready. But there are couple things you should do before you're out the door so you're set to have a good night:
- Make sure you've charged your phone before you leave
- If you plan on carrying cash, go to the cash-point during the day and avoid using them at night
- Put your keys, ID and other valuables somewhere you won't lose them
- Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket
- If you've brought a bag don't leave it unattended when you're out
If you're meeting up at a friend's place first for pre-drinks, be cautious about how much you drink. Drinking alcohol in moderation is fine. But while under the influence of alcohol you can make yourself vulnerable and more likely to be a victim of crime.
Also be wary of inviting strangers to your home for pre-drinks (or at the end of the night). Remember, too much alcohol affects your normal everyday decisions which can put you at risk or into trouble
Stay with friends
It might seem obvious, but sticking with your mates in a packed bar can be trickier than it looks. Here's some advice to help you and your friends connected:
- Use licensed cabs and pre-book your journey to town and back home
- Tell your friends where you're going before you head off to the loo or the bar
- Take someone with you when you split from your group of friends
- Have a groupchat with your mates so you can stay in touch throughout the night if one of you goes to the bar
- If you notice you haven't seen a friend for a while, send them a message in the group chat
- Head home together and make sure everyone knows how and when each of you are getting home
Odds are you or some of your friends will be drinking. Having a couple drinks throughout the night isn't a worry. But overdoing it on the beers or smashing tons of shots isn't safe.
Here are a few tips when it comes to drinking safely:
- Eat before you drink so your body can better process your drinks – alcohol on an empty stomach will have you over the toilet in no time
- Pace out your drinks so you're not plastered when the taxi arrives – if you want to keep track of what you're drinking you can check out the Drinkaware drinks calculator
- Don't accept a drink from someone you don't know
- Avoid mixing different types of drinks, if you're drinking beer or wine stick to just the one
- Drink water or soft drinks throughout the night and if you're feeling too drunk
- Recognise the signs that you or one of your friends is drunk – slurred speech, blurred vision, losing balance
- If one of your friends has had a bit too much to drink make sure to get them some water and fresh air to help them sober up
- Avoid drinking and swimming – alcohol numbs your senses and can make it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
- No "minesweeping" – collecting unattended or near empty drinks just because you're dry – you don't know what's in those drinks or who's mouth has been on it
- As a whole, drugs consumed in a drink or otherwise isn't safe – you should never consume an unknown substance (whether its food a drink or a drug) as the consequences of doing so could be life threatening
While it's extremely rare, there is unfortunately a risk of drink spiking when you're out. So always keep your eye on your drink and don't leave it unattended. If you need to go to the loo, ask your friends to watch your drink.
If you suspect your's or someone else's drink has been spiked, immediately find a safe spot, notify venue staff and get some water. Staff will be able to offer help and safety and potentially locate the person who spiked your drink.
A few drinks will affect your decision-making and perception skills. What you want may not be what someone else wants.
Everyone deserves to have their boundaries respected, and there are some simple rules to live by:
- Always treat everyone you meet with respect
- Be conscious of how people respond to you on a night out – if someone doesn't want to talk to you or you're making them uncomfortable take the hint and leave them alone
- It doesn't matter how much you or others have had to drink, never touch someone without their consent
If you or someone you know has been treated inappropriately, try to diffuse the situation and move the people involved to safety. Avoid situations that have become hostile always walk away - this de-escalates the situation and keeps you safe.
If you continue to feel unsafe you can always let venue staff know and they can help you as best they can.
Getting home safe
How you get home might be one of the last things you think about when planning a night out. It's good to plan your journey home, or have a couple of options in mind depending on where the night takes you.
If you've met someone on your night out, think about the risks of inviting them back to your place or staying at theirs. Make sure you're confident that you'll be safe and have a way of getting home afterwards.
Getting a cab or bus home is safer than walking, so make sure you have money to get home. Areas around university campuses generally have good transport networks so you should figure out what works best for you. Never accept a lift from a stranger.
If you're on your own and need help, visit the Safe Space at the Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre and they will help you. Safe Space is run by South Central Ambulance Service and provides an all-round health and wellbeing service, as well as a safe place for anyone who is looking for a short respite on a night out. They can also help contact friends or family. They help anyone who is injured, lost, needing advice or just wants to talk.
Walking home safely
We wouldn't recommend getting home on foot, even if it's only a short distance. But if you're set on walking home there are steps you can take to make sure you arrive safely:
- Don't walk alone
- Stick to open, well lit areas and walk with purpose
- Walk on the oncoming traffic side of the pavement so you're fully aware if a car stops near you
- Call and chat to a friend while you're walking home alone
- Carry a personal attack alarm for emergencies
If you think you're being followed, cross the road and see if you're still followed. Try and stop at a busy area like a petrol station, pub or takeaway, and phone the police.