Ready to let your hair down this Christmas? Read our practical tips for staying safe when you’re out and about during the winter break.
With Christmas just around the corner, thousands of people across the UK are getting ready to finish university or work for the year and let the festivities begin.
While safety may not be the first thing on your mind, it’s important to consider it when you’re out and about during the Christmas break.
Keep reading to get our top tips and advice on staying safe this winter.
Keeping your belongings safe
Robberies and burglaries tend to increase around the Christmas period, and students are often seen as good targets because there are multiple people living in a house with laptops, consoles, TVs and other valuables.
Although it would be rare for you to fall victim to this, making sure that your student accommodation is secure mitigates the risk. At Vita Student, each building has 24/7 security and key fob access to ensure that your belongings are safe at all times.
Your contents are also covered by our partner insurance company, Endsleigh, throughout the duration of your stay at Vita Student. All you need to do is confirm your cover by downloading the Endsleigh App.
If you live with us and haven’t confirmed your cover already, you can do so here.
When you’re out
It’s important to stress that you aren’t to blame if a crime is committed against you, even when under the influence. However, knowing your limits and staying in control will help you to avoid being put in a vulnerable position.
Here are some ways you can look after yourself and your friends on a night out:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks and water/soft drinks – this will help to keep you hydrated and clear headed
- Stay with your friends and look out for each other – if somebody doesn’t look well, it’s probably best to call it a night and make sure they get home safely
- Stay away from confrontational situations. Getting involved in fights, even by attempting to break them up, can get you hurt
- Keep an eye on your belongings and don’t leave them unattended
- Try not to mix your drinks – choose one spirit, wine or beer and stick to that for the evening (you’ll thank yourself for it the next morning!)
Unfortunately, drink spiking can happen to anyone. Most substances are colourless, tasteless, and odourless and so it’s difficult to tell if your drink has been tampered with.
However, if you feel unusually drowsy, disorientated, have breathing problems, speech difficulties, or generally feel much more drunk than expected, there’s a chance you’ve been spiked.
Spiking isn’t easy to control, and while it’s a crime that simply shouldn’t exist and is never the victim’s fault – there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk or stay out of danger in the event you do get spiked:
- Keep your drink covered using either your hand or drinks cover
- Watch the bartender prepare your drinks
- Don’t accept a drink from a stranger – if you do, go with them to the bar and take the drink directly from the bartender
- If you’ve left your drink unattended or think it could have been tampered with, just leave it and get another
- If you suspect you’ve been spiked or feel any of the above symptoms, stay with your friends and get immediate help by telling either a staff member or calling an ambulance
Coming home from a night out
When the night draws to a close, and you’re ready to crawl into bed, finding your way home can feel like the biggest chore ever. However, it’s always a good idea to take that extra bit of time to plan your route home.
It’s unlikely that a crime would be committed against you on your way home, but here’s what you can do to take precautions:
- When you move in, familiarise yourself with your area so you avoid getting lost at night – it’s good practice to plan your journeys home in advance too
- Make friends in your building so you don’t always have to walk home alone
- Make sure your phone is charged before going out in case you need to make a call or arrange an Uber
- Avoid wearing headphones when walking so that you stay aware of your surroundings
- Consider buying a personal safety alarm and keep it somewhere you can easily retrieve it
- Avoid poorly lit alleyways and shortcuts – a longer route home is safer if it is along busier roads with streetlamps
- Make sure you have enough money for a taxi in case you miss the last bus or train – however do not ever get an unlicensed taxi
Winter is a great time to date. Christmas markets around the UK open their doors, inviting budding romances to cosy up between a mug of mulled wine and the mistletoe.
Not only can this make for a dreamy first date, it’s also, by far, the safer option. Spending your first few dates in a public place means you can easily leave if you need to.
If you’re meeting somebody for the first time, consider calling them on FaceTime before the date to check that they are who they say they are.
Even if you’ve already met the person you’re going out with, let either friends or family know your whereabouts and organise separate transport there and back instead of accepting a lift.
Most importantly, trust your instincts – if you ever feel uncomfortable, then don’t be afraid to remove yourself from the situation or ask for help from a staff member. In many venues across the UK, you can ‘Ask for Angela’ at the bar and the staff members will know to help you get home discreetly.