How to ensure the best weekend of the semester doesn’t turn into the worst day of your life

By Melissa Niemiec, Staff Writer

To some, “tips to being safe” fits with Unofficial about as well as a square peg fits in a round hole. On a weekend when you’re supposed to be wild, drink unceasingly and raise hell, safety can sound awfully boring.

So don’t think about it like taking safety precautions. Think about it like you’re ensuring that your awesome weekend won’t be ruined by you or your friends having to go the hospital or suffering irreparable emotional damage.

When drinking all day, a common practice on Unofficial, there are a few physical safety concerns. As you definitely paid attention at ACE IT and retained all the information therein in order to be a good freshman, this article is probably useless. However, please continue if you were a slacker (read: most people) who do not remember ACE IT’s wisdom.

An obvious physical concern on Unofficial is drinking too much and getting seriously ill.

According to the 2017 “Unofficial” press release from Champaign law enforcement, area hospitals reported treating 30 patients for “intoxication issues directly related to Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day.” Considering this doesn’t include students afraid to go to the hospital, this is a pretty concerning number.  

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    You can avoid getting dangerously intoxicated by counting your drinks.

    A popular method is to make tally marks on your wrist, but this isn’t as effective if the plan is to continuously drink all day. Even if you use a dry erase marker and wash it off every hour, you still run the risk of it washing off accidentally if there’s a spill on your wrist. Also, if someone is underage, it’s pretty suspicious if they have a bunch of tallies on their arm.  

    Luckily, there are many phone apps that can assist with keeping track of your booze.

    IntelliDrink for iPhone and AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker for Android will keep track of your blood alcohol content as you record what you drink. The former will even notify you when you’ve surpassed a limit you’ve preset for yourself.

    Not confident with your ability to use technology when drunk? For a more low-tech option, keep about ten rubber bands, bangles or hair ties in your pocket.

    For each drink slip on a band, and at the end of each hour, take them off and put it back in your pocket. To know how many drinks you’ve had that hour, just count the bands on your wrists.

    Beyond the danger of getting sick from drinking too much, there is also the danger of impaired judgement causing drunk people to do dangerous things such as balance on high structures, drive recklessly or play with unsafe objects.

    Take preventative measures to protect yourself and your friends. Take an Uber or walk to your location even when you’re sober, so when you’re intoxicated, you will be forced to take an Uber or walk back, taking away the temptation of driving.

    While drunk try to stay focused on your actions and the actions those around you, and try to deter dangerous behaviors.

    As a host, there are a few things you can do to provide safety for your guests.

    Balconies may be fun and refreshing, but it’s safer to lock the door and prevent drunk guests from going there. If your friends drive, keep track of when they leave and whether you need to take their keys away.

    Put away potentially dangerous objects such as knives, guns or heating devices. Don’t allow people to lock themselves in a room alone in case they pass out. It may seem a little overzealous, but imagine the guilt you would feel for the rest of your life if someone got seriously injured or even died in your own home. 

    One last danger that comes with the copious amount of alcohol consumption during Unofficial, one that isn’t talked about as much as the others, is the danger of sexual assault.

    According to a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one-half of sexual assaults on American women involve alcohol consumption in some way.

    The article attributes this to alcohol causing aggression, decreasing inhibitions and increasing confidence in the perpetrator. It also cites how the perpetrator will use his or her drinking as an excuse to exercise sexually inappropriate behavior.

    For victims, the study points to alcohol decreasing the ability to assess risk and impairing their ability to run away and resist.

    Understanding your friends’ wants and needs is an important part of protecting them when going out. Discuss what they want from the night.

    Do they plan on finding someone to go home with or is that the furthest thing from their mind? Is that one guy their goal of the night or do they think he’s a total creep? That way, when they actually do end up going home with someone, you have an idea on whether it’s what they would have wanted when they were sober. 

    One of the biggest issues with drinking is that it impairs judgement.

    Suddenly, walking home alone or going upstairs with a complete stranger seems like a good idea. You don’t pay attention to who’s giving you drinks or who’s making them. Always know where your friends are and don’t go to places alone. Get your drinks from friends or bartenders. Try to stay conscious about what’s happening around and to you.

    With the thrills of Unofficial comes many hidden dangers. “Keep yourself safe” can start to sound awfully stuffy, but there’s only a few easily avoidable ways you can make your Unofficial experience horrible and many more ways that you can make it great.

    Melissa is a sophomore in LAS.

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