One of the most exciting prospects of starting university is living independently for the first time. You can stay out as late as you want, experience new things; the freedom is exhilarating. But itâ€™s essential to know how to look after yourself, especially as youâ€™ll be interacting lots and mostly new people. So we thought weâ€™d share some safety guidelines to help you have fun, safely.
Your safety when out and about
Particularly important when on a night out but equally as important when walking alone at any time, even on campus, these are some things to consider, helping you feel safe:
- Carry an alarm– you may find the police handing these out at fresherâ€™s fair so keep your eyes peeled but if not, weâ€™d recommend getting one. Youâ€™re unlikely to ever need it but itâ€™s one of those best to have items.
- Tell someone where you are going and when youâ€™re expected to be home.
- On a night out, pre-book a taxi or keep a number of a trusted company on your phone and always set some money aside for your night out
- When using transport to get home: Wait for taxis in populated areas, if you feel uneasy with the driver, take a picture of their license and send it to someone you trust; sit near the driver on a bus and in a populated carriage of a train.
- Always make sure you have enough battery on your phone in case of emergency- carry a portable phone charger just in case.
- Be aware of your surroundings, stick to designated paths and well-lit/populated areas- when walking home you, if you feel unsafe your reaction may be to get on your phone out but actually this can be distracting. Always pay attention.
- Set an emergency contact in your phone put ICE next to your next of kin (though Mum/Dad is a giveaway) and make sure you have your emergency contact/medical info registered on your phone to override the locked function.
- If someone or a situation doesnâ€™t seem right- remove yourself from it
- Donâ€™t giveÂ intoÂ peer pressure. Â
Safety in your new home
Familiarise yourself with emergency contacts (and add them to your phone), exits in case of a fire, and ensure the alarms have been tested (smoke and burglar). Â It is also worth familiarising yourself with basic fire and medical procedures.
Your belongings and passwords
Itâ€™s important to protect your belongings too. Make sure you have some form of contents insurance as with phones, laptops, TVs, jewellery and other expensive items you want peace of mind that if something happened, youâ€™re covered. Itâ€™s also wise to pre-register any expensive belongings like bikes and gadgets; it can reduce the risk of it being stolen and in the event it is, improve the likelihood of having it returned to you.
In addition make sure that your computer has antivirus software as youâ€™ll be connecting a lot to public internet. It is also worth password protecting your phone, so in the event it is stolen it can make it difficult for it to be sold on or have your private information accessed.
As for your personal transport- always lock your bike up, even if youâ€™re leaving it for only a few minutes. It is all it takes to have it stolen. As for cars, always make sure it is locked, windows are done up and no belongings are left out in clear sight, including CDâ€™s.
Be drink aware
The first year of uni is one party after another; you may have recently turned 18 and youâ€™ve likely to have had few alcohol experiences- this particular aspect of freedom can seem intoxicating in itself but an aspect you need to take most precaution with.
Know your limits
Itâ€™s not just about the short term game which is pretty dangerous in itself but also the long term one too. In the short term you can lose your sense of self and inhibitions which can get you in difficult situations around dangerous people and there is also the possibility of getting seriously ill and needing medical treatment. Plus the day after a super heavy night is no fun either. As for the long term, binge drinking can have a serious implication on your health. The recommended guideline is 14 units per week with a binge classed as 6-8 units in a single session.
Stick to a particular drink
Trust us! Weâ€™ve mixed and youâ€™ll only regret it. Itâ€™ll just ruin your night and possibly several days later.
Donâ€™t leave your drink unattended
We canâ€™t stress this one enough. Never, ever leave your drink unattended or with someone you donâ€™t know very well. If you need the loo- either finish it first, discard it and buy a fresh or as a last resort take it with you. Be familiar with drink spiking to help you of a friend.
Eat before you go out
Always a sensible idea. Youâ€™re less likely to get sick and itâ€™ll help the body absorb some of the alcohol.
Drink plenty of water too
Weâ€™d recommend a glass of water between each alcoholic one but we know this isnâ€™t likely so just have a glass whenever you can, especially a large one before bed and plenty the next day.
Safe sex is super important. The recent stats show that of those diagnosed, young people are most likely to contract a disease; with 62% having chlamydia, 52% with gonorrhoea, 51% with genital warts and 41% with genital herpes. Always wear a condom and practice safe sex; talk to a nurse practitioner with any concerns or questions.