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Spring. Ah! The weather warms up. The sun actually shines, at least intermittently. The birds start singing. Your blood even starts to flow again after a long winter on the couch and you smile. Time to go somewhere else - anywhere! - and forget about each and every stress life has cruelly and indiscriminately placed on your plate...yeah, forget about it. Stretch out and relax at the beach or in the resort or work it out on the ski slopes out west. You deserve it. You've worked hard. Paid your dues - well, tuition, anyway. You have the absolute right to bask in 9 days of carefree and refreshing time away. No professors. No tests. No papers. No parking tickets. No crowds at the SRSC. No responsibilities! Ah! Spring.
Sounds good doesn't it? Maybe too good. Taking a trip away from campus for Spring Break can be a wonderful experience and while you may not receive any parking tickets on the beach in Florida, you still have daily responsibilities for your personal safety. We all take risks every day and with every risk is a responsibility. Let your decision making process include knowledge of the consequences of the risks you choose to take. Feel free to bask in the sun, but be sure to always keep one eye open!
Here are some risk reduction ideas:
1. BEFORE YOU GO
- Leave a light and a radio on inside your apartment / residence.
- Ask your police department if it has a Vacation Check program in which you indicate departure and return dates and provide them with a list of persons authorized to be at your apartment / residence.
- Lock all windows and doors and double check the basement and garage doors.
- Place a wooden rod in the track of your sliding glass door and check with your building manager about installing pins in the overhead frame so the door cannot be lifted out.
- Make a record of your passport, credit card and traveler's check numbers to be kept with a trusted friend for safekeeping.
- Lock your bicycle with a U-lock and cable lock and seat leash.
- Record the brand names and serial numbers of your bicycle, television, stereo, and computer and keep them in a safe place. If possible, photograph them.
- Don't carry large amounts of cash - use traveler's checks or credit cards whenever possible.
- If driving, plan your route carefully using main roads and have your car serviced thoroughly before you leave.
- When stopping on the road, conceal valuables in the trunk and do not leave luggage inside the car overnight.
- Take a cell phone and keep it charged.
- Park in well lighted areas and be especially alert in parking garages.
- Lock your car always, even if you're going to be gone a short time.
3. HOTEL LIFE
- Don't leave baggage unattended. Check it with the staff if you can't go to your room immediately.
- If the front desk clerk mentions your room number loudly, request a new room.
- Don't enter a room if the door is ajar.
- Inside the room, have the bell attendant check behind the curtains, under the bed, inside the shower, bathroom, closets to make sure no one is hiding inside the room.
- Use all auxiliary door locking devices.
- Leave valuables in the hotel safe-deposit box.
- Do not answer the door without verifying who is there. Call the front desk to confirm, if an employee.
- Check your belongings daily inside your room - know what's there.
- If someone is loitering in the hall near your room as you arrive, do not go in. Report this to the front desk.
- Be extremely cautious in parking lots and parking garages.
- Ask the concierge about problem areas in the vicinity to avoid.
4. FUN! FUN! FUN! TILL SOMEBODY TAKES YOUR MONEY AWAY...
- Plan visits to the automatic teller machine during the day and select one that is in a busy public place.
- Take a friend or two with you when you use an ATM. They can watch the area while you conduct your transactions.
- Spend as little time at the machine as possible - have a game plan in advance.
- When you make a withdrawal, immediately place the cash inside your pocket, purse or wallet, take all of your receipts and leave as soon as you're finished.
- Not all persons waiting near an ATM are potential customers - be suspicious and allow them to go ahead of you. If they refuse your courtesy, leave.
- In drive through ATMs, keep your car locked. If anyone you cannot identify as a bank employee approaches, hit CANCEL, take your card and drive away.
- THE BIG THREE
- STAY AWARE AND TUNED IN TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS! ALWAYS HAVE A GAME PLAN FOR ANY TYPE OF INCIDENT! THINK ABOUT IT!
- STAND TALL AND WALK WITH CONFIDENCE. BE ORGANIZED; NOT HAPHAZARD - TO ANYONE WATCHING, HAPHAZARD BEHAVIOR REFLECTS WEAKNESS.
- TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE IN A SITUATION OR AREA, LEAVE!
5. NOW, ABOUT THAT NEXT ROUND OF BEER....
- LOW RISK DRINKING is thinking about whether you will drink before you go out; being the appropriate legal age; eating a meal before drinking; consuming no more than one drink per hour with a max of 3 for women and 4 for men; always knowing what you're drinking; alternating alcohol-free drinks throughout the evening; knowing how you will get back home safely before you go out.
- HIGH RISK DRINKING is chugging, drinking games, shots, drinking through a hose, trough, punch bowl or funnel; drinking to get drunk; driving after drinking or riding with someone under the influence; drinking on an empty stomach or too fast on an empty stomach; going to parties where people drink too much; not knowing what is in your glass or leaving it unattended; mixing alcohol with any medications or illegal drugs.
Being informed and aware will increase your ability to make better decisions regarding your personal safety. However, should a criminal or suspicious incident occur to you, notify the local police department (if urgent, 9-1-1) as soon as you can. They should be equipped to provide you with additional response options for your particular situation. Don't hesitate! Make the call! Remember, each of us takes risks every day. Stack the deck, get the odds in your favor and KNOW THE CONSEQUENCES BEFORE YOU ENGAGE! Is the risk worth it? Think about it.