Going out on the town? Here’s how to stay safe
By Audrey Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org
The start of a new school year brings new adventures, reunions with old friends and all the activities of a bustling campus in the heart of South Carolina's capital city. Students should take a few simple precautions to make sure they stay safe while exploring the city and getting to know their classmates.
Look out for yourself and others
Be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut when something looks fishy and do what you can to prevent harm. That's the foundation of the Gamecocks Stand Up bystander initiative.
As a member of a community, when you recognize that something might be wrong, you should do something about it, says Shannon Nix, director of Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention and Prevention.
"When you see a potentially harmful situation, make a decision to make a difference – directly or indirectly," Nix says. "You don't have to swoop in. You can be much more subtle by just asking someone if they're OK, creating a distraction or interrupting. Or, you can ask someone else for help -- your RM, a staff member at a club or bar, anyone who looks like they could help."
Use rideshare services safely
Using rideshare services can be a safe way to get around town. UofSC’s Division of Law Enforcement and Safety has these tips to make your trip even safer:
- Trust your instincts, and do not hesitate to call 911 if you are unsafe.
- Request your ride from inside a safe place and stay there until the app shows that your driver has arrived.
- Confirm that the vehicle and license plate match the information on the app.
- Ask the driver who they are there to pick up, say “What’s my name?”
- Ride in the back seat with your seatbelt on.
- Use the safety timer on your RAVE Guardian app.
Download the RAVE Guardian App
RAVE is a mobile app that turns any cell phone into a personalized protection network. It connects you directly with USCPD during an emergency and provides important information instantly. You can create your personal profile, set safety timers, anonymously report crime and more. The RAVE Guardian App is especially helpful when walking around campus, even if you are in a familiar area.
Know your limits and your trusted individuals
According to the office of Substance Abuse Prevention Education (SAPE), most UofSC students drink in low- to no-risk ways, but some students do drink a lot. Staying hydrated, sticking to a buddy system, pacing yourself and having a plan are all important ways to be safe in any scenario.
“One of the biggest things is eating before and during drinking … eating after drinking doesn't really help that much,” says Nikki Prudé, outreach educator SAPE. “It takes a little bit of time for alcohol to kick in. Drink water, slow down, pace yourself.”
Having a plan before going out is a great way to stay safe, and the buddy system is a great way to prevent being in an unfamiliar situation without a trusted individual.
Remember The Good Samaritan Policy
UofSC officials created The Good Samaritan Policy (also called the Medical Overdose Treatment or Amnesty Policy) to encourage students to seek assistance for their friends and peers who may be experiencing an alcohol or drug overdose. Students who may be in violation of code of conduct policies while seeking medical assistance will receive educational and supportive measures over disciplinary sanctions.
“Some people are scared to call for help because they are underage and they think they'll be in trouble, but we have the amnesty policy,” Prudé says. “Know the signs of needing medical assistance and stay with that person. You could save a life.”
Keep in mind that The Good Samaritan Policy applies to any substance, not just alcohol. If you or a friend are at risk for opioid overdose, you should also carry naloxone. The life-saving medication is available from SAPE, which is a Community Distributor as designated by the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.
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