For a lot of people, freshers’ week will be one of the first times they venture out to a club. Among your hectic freshers’ activities and new experiences, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself. So, we’ve put together our top tips on how to stay safe this freshers’ week, including keeping an eye on your friends.
Tell someone (ideally who is not going out) where you’re going, who with and when you’ll be back.
Additionally, if you are concerned about someone’s safety try to help them there and then. You can call the police or campus security to help. A key technique if you think someone is being harassed is pretending that you know them and helping them get away from the situation as their ‘friend’. This technique is known as being an ‘active bystander’ and is really useful if you see someone in a potentially dangerous situation.
Getting home safe
Never walk home alone. Make sure you have Uber downloaded so you can always do this but ideally bring cash on a night out just in case you can’t secure an Uber. If you must walk, make sure to avoid unlit, quiet areas such as alleyways.
Most importantly, try not to get separated from your friends and plan ahead for what you should do if you do, for instance, planning a time to meet or an emergency meeting point or using apps like WhatsApp or Life360 to share your location with friends.
Self-defence in the UK
If you feel unsafe you may wish to carry a personal safety alarm. There are other items you can use to protect yourself such as self-defence spray which marks the perpetrators face with paint so they can be easily identified.
However, in the UK, not much is legal. You cannot carry anything you intend to use as a weapon such as pepper spray or a self-defence keychain and if you cause harm you could be charged with assault. As such, your best bet to protect yourself is a personal safety alarm or to learn self-defence techniques online.
What if you’re not going home?
Staying at a mates or going home with someone? Make sure to communicate where you are going, who with and what you are doing. If you want to be extra safe or are going home with someone new, download WhatsApp where you can share your location with friends or a tracking app such as Life360 and create a circle with your housemates so you can see where they are and be sure they are safe (of course these apps can be turned off when you’re not out!)
Get familiar with your university’s support
A lot of universities have great support in place to help students stay safe whilst on nights out. Check out your uni’s website to find out what they offer. For instance, many offer services in partnership with local taxi companies where you can exchange your university ID card for a ride, the next day, you can pay the fee and get your ID back. Another example are the women’s night buses which offer cheap or free transport for women from venues.
Although you may think spiking is something primarily targeted at women, everyone should stay vigilant as it can happen to anyone.
You can recognise if a friend has been spiked if they are nauseous, confused, acting unusual, seem drunker than expected, have visual issues, a loss of balance or are vomiting.
If you think you or a friend has been spiked you should ask to go to A&E. Once there, tell the medical staff you think you have been spiked and give urine and blood samples as most date rape drugs take 72 hours to leave the body.
Some important things to consider in order to avoid spiking are:
- Do not leave your drink unattended
- Do not accept drinks from people you don’t know
- Cover your glass with your hand or purchase an anti-spiking product such as a drinks cover or bottle stopper.
If you are in a pub, club or restaurant and need to get out of the situation, you can ask for Angela at the bar and the staff will call you a taxi or get you out discreetly and without any fuss.
If you feel unsafe in a taxi or otherwise, there are many TikToks out there where creators post ‘Safety Calls’ designed to make it seem like someone is calling you and expecting you home. There are not many using an English accent but below is one we found. Alternatively, you could ask a friend to record one for you.
@mendyperdew#duet with @elliewilknson #safetycall #unitedkingdom #fakecall
Although it may seem a bit scary, university is great fun and safety measures are just necessary precautions to make sure the fun continues.