By Stacie Spring
During Spring break, it’s easy to let your guard down. You’re with your friends, you’re having fun (and some of the time, you’re drinking). But that also means you’re often in an unfamiliar place surrounded by people you don’t know. Below is a list of safety tips from the Arizona State University Police Department, Marcia Peot, StreetSafe chief safety officer, and yours truly, who managed to survive four spring breaks without losing life, limb or property.
1. Use common sense.
Stay in well-lit, well-travelled areas, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place. “Being on vacation is not an excuse to throw caution to the wind and do something you wouldn’t normally do or to put yourself in an unsafe situation,” Peot said. Nearly every piece of advice falls under this category.
2. There is safety in numbers.
Stay with your friends and don’t go off alone or with people you don’t know, ASU PD warns. If there is anything we can learn from Natalie Holloway, it’s to stick with your friends.
3. Have a designated meeting place and time.
This can be the hotel room at the end of the day, lunch at a restaurant at 1 p.m. or even the fountains outside the Bellagio in an hour. Phones can die, ringtones go unheard and texts unanswered, so have a plan — and stick to it.
4. Bring your identification and/or passport.
Whether you travel to Mexico for the beaches or to Canada for the skiing, you’ll need your passport to get back into the country.
5. Speaking of Mexico — don’t go there.
The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for much of Mexico, including Sonora and Baja California, the two states neighboring Arizona and California. If you decide to go anyway, check the travel warnings online at www.travel.state.gov and stay in the tourist hot spots.
6. Spring break doesn’t mean you have to go crazy.
Half of all ASU students say they won’t be drinking at all during the break, according to ASU Health and Wellness. Another third reported they won’t be drinking for most of spring break. If you do drink, do it responsibly and follow the normal rules: Have a designated driver; if you put your drink down, it’s no longer your drink; don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. If you believe someone has slipped something in your drink, go to the emergency room.
7. Make sure your hotel room is always locked and don’t leave your belongings unattended.
“Do not advertise your room number, open the door for anyone you are not expecting, or bring strangers back to your room,” Peot said.
8. Don’t forget your prescriptions.
In the hustle and bustle of packing, it might be easy to forget them. Also, make sure that all of your medications are in their original containers, ASU PD warns.
9. Be able to communicate.
Both ASU PD and Peot suggest keeping your cell phone on you at all times in case of emergencies, but if you’re anything like my friends, you do that anyway.
10. There’s an app for that.
OK, I understand if you don’t want your parents to always know (and potentially track) where you are. But during spring break, it might be a good idea to have a back-up plan.
The SecuraFone free mobile app has a simple SOS button. When you slide it, the app sends a text message, shoots an email and starts a phone call to preset phone numbers and email addresses. This can mean your friend or parent will know your location and can either find you or alert the authorities. It took me all of five minutes to download the app and set up the contact information online. Additional security options can be purchased on the website.
Another app (this one requires a monthly fee), StreetSafe is a personal security system that uses your phone’s GPS technology to instantly connect to help before a situation turns into an emergency. “The app’s ‘Walk with Me’ service offers a live connection to a professional safety advisor to keep you safe when walking in unfamiliar or threatening surroundings and instant access to 911 if needed,” Peot said.
11. Drink plenty of water and use sunscreen.
Sunburn and dehydration would really suck when you’re trying to have fun. Plus, dehydration and alcohol are an awful combination.