How best to stay safe during spring break



UNI Student Wellness Services offers students advice on how best to stay safe during spring break.

Guest Column

Editor’s note: the following guest column was submitted by UNI Student Wellness Services.

Are you looking to jet off to somewhere tropical, road trip down south with friends or are just looking to take a break from the stress of classes?

Spring break 2018 is upon us, and while many are looking to soak up vitamin D and spend time with friends, it is also crucial to think about your safety while on spring break. If you choose to travel, take the following steps to be sure you are having a relaxing and safe time.

Before You Leave:

• Make sure all electronics and appliances are unplugged.

• Lock your doors and windows, making sure all blinds and curtains are closed.

• Choosing to travel by car? Have your car serviced and ask to make sure your car is in working condition to travel a certain distance.

• Flying your favorite airline? Make sure all valuables are removed from your car and lock all doors.

• If you are traveling abroad, make a spare copy of your passport.

• Pack snacks that will help keep you fuller longer and energized, such as: trail mix, fresh fruit, veggies, popcorn and granola bars.

• Pack a small cooler with water to help you stay hydrated.

• Make sure that someone you trust knows where you will be and what stops you are making.

• Save important phone numbers in your phone and refer to for emergency numbers and more information.

• If you think you will be engaging in sexual activity while you are away, make sure you think about your personal boundaries and what safety measures you will take. Remember, free condoms and other safer sex supplies are available on-campus in the Student Health Center to take before you go.

• Should you also engage in sexual activity, know your sexual status by getting yourself tested before and after spring break. The Student Health Clinic offers free chlamydia and gonorrhea testing.

On the Way:

• Make sure all your baggage is tagged with your last name and first initial and an identifying object (keychain, ribbon, tape, etc.) so you know that it is yours.

• Have your phone fully charged; have a backup portable battery charger or a phone charger for your car.

• Take turns driving so you decrease your chance for an accident and everyone can stay well rested.

• Stay active! Going to be in the car for a long period of time? Stop every couple of hours for a quick 20-minute walk to get your blood flowing and awaken your body.

• Aim to stay in a group when making stops outside of your regular travel and be cautious of your surroundings.

While You’re There:

• Have a plan to stay safe in all settings. Think about a possible back-up plan for potentially risky situations and surround yourself with people who have your best interest in mind.

• Wear sunscreen of at least an SPF of 30, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; remember you can burn even when it’s cloudy.

• Keep an eye on your friends, never travel alone and leave with the group you came with. Don’t leave someone stranded in an unfamiliar or unsafe situation.

• Do not mix sex with alcohol and/or other drugs. If you and/or your partner are under the influence of alcohol and drugs, it is difficult to make safe sexual health decisions. Partners are more likely to be careless when using a condom, causing it to break or slip, or they might have sex without using a condom.

• Remember, consent to any sexual activity may never be obtained if one or both partners are mentally incapacitated, including through the use of drugs or alcohol.

• Be an active bystander. Take it upon yourself to intervene if you notice someone who may be in a risky situation, especially when individuals are under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs.

• Be cautious when tagging your specific locations on Facebook/Instagram, or sharing your location while on Snapchat and adding to a story.

• If you choose to drink alcohol and are of legal age, eat a substantial meal before you drink; pace your drinks to one drink per hour; measure your drinks; determine in advance to not exceed a set number of drinks; and avoid shots/drinking games.

• Don’t drink from open punch bowls, pitchers or tubs. Never accept a drink from someone you don’t know or leave your drink unattended.

• When using Uber, Lyft or a city taxi, make sure to ride with a group you trust, never ride alone and do not share the ride service with people you do not know.

• Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable for any reason, call for help. In case of an emergency, call 911.

Spring break is about taking a break from the stress of classes and indulging in a little self-care. It is about planning for your safety before you go and while you are there — having a safety plan, looking out for your friends and staying safe wherever you are.

Spring break should be fun and relaxing, but it is also about making safe decisions your future self will thank you for.