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, particularly those unfamiliar with the Columbia area, should take a few simple precautions to make sure they stay safe while exploring the city and getting to know their classmates.
Safety tips for using rideshare
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.
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, your surroundings 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.
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.”
SAPE offers resources such as ScreenU and Stir, an anonymous self-check of substance use and one-on-one substance counseling, respectively. Students can opt for these services personally or refer a friend or peer that may be in need of help.
“If you are concerned about your friend, the easiest way to make sure they don't listen to you is to be judgmental. You want to make sure you're coming from a place of care and concern,” Prudé says. “And if someone comes to you with concern, realize they're coming to you because they care.”
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