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Although it’s sad that summer is officially over, the beginning of a new semester calls for new adventures—and that in itself deserves celebration. Despite the excitement, it’s still important to be mindful of your actions. So, here are seven fundamental tips on staying safe during your back-to-school festivities:

 

1. Watch your drink at ALL times

This tip may sound like a broken record, but it’s extremely important to follow. First off, you should never let a stranger or someone you are not entirely familiar with make your drink. No matter how friendly someone may seem when offering you a drink, it’s just not worth the risk. Another suggestion is to be mindful of where you place your drinks. If you leave your drink in a busy area for even a second, you should get a new one. You never know if anyone will drop something in your drink when you’re not looking.

2. Drink (water)

You’ll thank yourself in the morning for drinking water throughout the night. You may seem—and feel—fine at the time, but you never know how your body will react the next day. Spare yourself some pain and drink water (or sports drinks) whenever you can.

3. Don’t go out alone, and stay with at least a friend at all times

The buddy system could not be more relevant in college, especially if you go to a large university like UW-Madison. It’s practically impossible to familiarize yourself with every student and location, so why travel by yourself when you could potentially be put in a harmful situation? It’s also helpful to share your location with a roommate or some of your close friends. In case you fail to get ahold of your friends, you can always check their location to make sure they’re okay.

4. Be aware of your surroundings

Always try to familiarize yourself with the area where your party is happening. Keep a watchful eye out for anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. You definitely do not want to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; more importantly, you wouldn’t want be caught in an unsafe situation and not know how to get out of it.

5. BYOB if you can

“Never trust the punch!” If you are skeptical about the beverages being served at a party, it’s never wrong or strange to bring your own. By bringing your own beverage, you are not only ensuring your safety but are also allowing yourself to become more mindful of exactly how much you’re consuming, which should help your health as well.

6. Don’t bring valuable items

 

This tip may seem obvious, but accidents happen. Although bringing a nice purse out or wearing your favorite jewelry might seem like a good way to spice up an outfit, you will regret it if anything bad happens to them—or if you lose them for good. People steal, drinks spill and things break. Essentially, save your valuables for more trustworthy occasions!

7. Eat before you go out

Even if you are not planning on consuming alcoholic beverages, you should still make sure you eat before going out. If you go out with an empty stomach, you might not enjoy the party as much. In that case, you’ll probably end up fighting your hunger for the rest of the night unless you leave early, which doesn’t sound fun for anyone!

 

We all know that sometimes going out can get the best of you, so follow these tips for a better, safer night. It’s okay to let loose and have fun, especially at the beginning of the school year—just make sure you don’t forget about your priorities and responsibilities while you’re out and about.

I am a freshman at UW-Madison seeking majors in Communication Arts and Strategic Communications!
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