Spring Break Safety Tips
Sandy beaches, warm water, and tropical drinks beckon hundreds of thousands of college students to destinations across the world each year. The combination of high alcohol intake and relaxed inhibitions associated with this annual tradition can lead to increased safety risks like muggings, drink driving, and alcohol poisoning. Make spring break memorable by having fun and helping yourself, your friends, and others stay safe and healthy with these tips.
- Arrive safely. Driving through the night to make it down to Florida or other sunny destinations is common for spring breakers. But, the National Safety Council says traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day. If you can’t avoid night driving, have at least one person stay awake to talk to driver.
- Don’t take chances at your hotel. Lock the doors, and secure important belongings like passports and wallets in the safe. SABRE’s door stop alarm is portable and can alert you if someone tries to break-in. Make sure you know the name and address of your hotel or take a hotel business card out with you so you can give to a cab driver. This is especially important if you don’t speak the local language. Don’t tell new acquaintances your hotel or room number. You never know who has innocent or dangerous intentions.
- Protect your location. Sharing too much information on your location on social media may endanger your safety according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Adjust your privacy settings and use your best judgement when checking in on Facebook. Be cautious about revealing personal infromation and your location through status updates or tweets.
- Carry cash and phone numbers. And take a copy of your credit cards in case they are stolen.
- Use the buddy system. Never leave a party with a stranger and establish a place to meet in advance if you get separated. It’s always best to take a friend with you. If for whatever reason you do leave without your friends, give them details about where you’re going and when to expect you back.
- Create a code word. Create a secret signal or code word to let your friends know when you're uncomfortable and need them to intervene.
- Practice safe drinking. Take turns so that one friend in the group per night will plan on minimal drinking to look out for everyone. Other good habits include watching your cup or glass, and only accept drinks that you’ve watched get made or poured in front of you. And, don't drink in a hot tub. Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. The effects of drinking are felt faster and stronger if you're sitting in a hot tub.
- If you need help, ask for it. If there’s an emergency, don’t rely on a bystander to call for help. Call for help yourself to be sure first responders or police get the message.
- Hydrate and wear sunscreen. Heat stroke and melanoma aren’t happy spring break thoughts, but too much time in the sun can leave you dehydrated with an increased risk of sunburns. Take your SPF and a bottle of water to the beach.
- Carry a small, practical, and easy to use personal protection tool like pepper spray or a personal alarm. SABRE red pepper spray and SABRE personal alarms are legal to carry in all 50 states.
- If you're traveling outside of the country:
- Sign up online for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enables the State Department to contact you in case of a family emergency, or to notify you of a crisis near your travel destination. You can also download the Smart Traveler iPhone App that provides additional tips and information.
- Look up the address or contact information for the American consulate or U.S. Embassy in the country where you’re headed. Tell friends and relatives in the U.S. of your travel itinerary and check in with them often.
- Know what to do in an emergency. In foreign nations, the phone number for emergency response is not 9-1-1. Visit the Students Abroad website for a list of these numbers along with detailed tips for health emergencies, evacuations, natural disasters, crime victims, and assistance to U.S. citizens arrested abroad.
- Call your credit card and cash card companies in advance to let them know you’ll be out of the country so they won’t put a stop on your account. Plus, the best exchange rates are with these cards, not in exchanging dollars for the local currency.
- Take a copy of your passport. There is no worse way to end a vacation than to discover that your passport has been stolen or lost.