How to Stay Safe at a College Party
By Cheryl Oberlin
Published on June 1, 2021
- Being proactive and planning ahead can help you socialize safely and protect yourself.
- Creating a safety plan that involves you and a friend can help you avoid unsafe situations.
- Continuing to follow COVID-19 health protocols is an integral part of staying safe in 2021.
College is often depicted as a time when students stretch their boundaries, form new social groups, and enjoy their newfound freedom as adults. This often means attending parties, especially if you plan on participating in Greek life.
But these depictions of carefree nights out on the town often minimize the risks involved with partying in college. If you're not careful, you can put your physical and mental health in danger when you go out on a Friday night.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol-related incidents lead to roughly 1,800 deaths, 700,000 assaults, and 100,000 sexual assaults each year among students aged 18-24. To avoid risky situations, consider using the following tips to create safety plans for yourself and your friends before leaving home.
12 College Party Safety Tips
You can dramatically increase your chances of remaining safe while still having a good time at a college party by taking a few precautionary steps. Talk with your friends about uncomfortable situations that may require a plan B, and don't be afraid to leave a party early if you feel uneasy.
Eat Food and Drink Water Before You Go Out
Take time to eat food and drink lots of water before you go out. This will help give you the energy needed to show off your moves on the dance floor, and also help mitigate the negative side effects of alcohol if you decide to have some drinks.
Use the Buddy System
As far back as elementary school, you've been advised to use the buddy system. This sage advice remains true at college. Sticking together helps ensure no one is left behind and that everyone has a safe way home. Pair up before you go to avoid confusion later.
Make Sure Your Phone Is Charged
Keep your phone fully charged and add the campus safety phone number to your contacts list. If you need to make an emergency call, your phone will be charged and you can quickly call for help.
Don't Leave Your Drinks Unattended
Many date rape drugs are odorless, colorless, and tasteless. If you leave your drink unattended, someone could slip something into it and you might not be able to tell. The best way to make sure you don't ingest a foreign substance is to keep your drink close at hand.
Don't Accept Drinks From Someone You Don't Trust
Similar to the point above, don't accept a drink from someone you don't trust — especially if it's in an open container. If you have trouble saying no when someone offers you a drink, consider bringing a water bottle to the party. Showing that you already have a drink may make it easier to decline an offer from someone you don't know.
Carry the Essentials With You
If you're going out, make sure to bring your ID, your phone, your keys, and any cash or credit cards that will fit snugly in a pocket. You don't want to get stuck somewhere without the money needed to get home or a way to contact help.
Know Your Limits
Make sure you know your limits before you go out. It doesn't take much to register above the legal limit on a blood alcohol test if you're driving. And it's essential to know how many drinks are too many so you can avoid putting yourself in an unsafe situation.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
If you're going to an unfamiliar area, take time to check it out before you go. Look for various routes to get to the destination, and make sure you know how to get back home. Many campuses have blue safety lights installed throughout campus, so be mindful of their locations before going out.
Don't Give In to Peer Pressure
A good way to stay safe is to stop and think about what you're doing or what you're being asked to do, and make sure that those actions align with your core values. If not, don't be persuaded by others. Don't be afraid to firmly say no if something is making you feel uncomfortable. Additionally — if you feel safe doing so — speak out if you witness suspicious behavior or a concerning situation at a party.
Don't Walk By Yourself After Dark
Back to the buddy system — avoid placing yourself in a compromising position by sticking close to your party buddy. This can make situations safer for both you and your friend. It's also a good idea to try and stay on familiar, well-traveled streets if you're walking around after dark.
Don't Leave With Someone You Don't Trust
It's a good habit to leave a party with the same people you arrived with — this ensures that no one gets left behind. Discuss who will be your buddy for each outing, confirm you'll help each other throughout the party as needed, and make sure you leave together. If you do leave a party with someone else, make sure to tell all your friends what you're up to.
Use Uber or Lyft to Get Home
If you get separated from your friends and can't contact them, leave them a message and then call for an Uber or Lyft ride home. This may be safer than accepting a ride from someone you don't know well. Check with your campus safety department before going out, as many offer discounted rates for students who use Uber or Lyft.
Rayelle Davis is a board-certified counselor and a licensed clinical professional counselor. As a nontraditional student, she earned her associate degree in psychology at Allegany College of Maryland before earning her bachelor's in psychology at the University of Maryland Global Campus and her master's in counseling education with a concentration in marriage, couples, and family therapy at Duquesne University. Davis has taught several undergraduate psychology courses and is currently a doctoral student and teaching assistant at Duquesne University.
Feature Image: Peter Cade / Stone / Getty Images