If you’re heading on a night out with your mates, you know you’re in for a good one – especially if you’re at uni. You’ve just moved into your new student home, made some great friends, and are bonding over many drunken stories that you’ll reminisce over in years to come.
However, if you have just moved away to uni, have a selection of new friends and are getting used to a new city or campus – nights out can also be quite risky as you navigate your new territory and learn who you can trust.
There’s been so much in the news about student safety on nights out recently – especially when it comes to needle spiking and females getting home safely. So, we’ve put together some top tips for staying safe during nights out – whether it’s during freshers’ or a little further down the line.
1. Eat plenty
It’s important to eat plenty before a night out for two key reasons:
•It’ll line your stomach so that you don’t over-do it on the alcohol front.
•It’ll help limit the effects of your hangover the next day!
Carbs will likely become your best friend in the days surrounding a night out - a bowl of pasta here, a greasy pizza there, they’ll help you both prepare for and recover from a big night out!
A glass of water between each drink is also a good idea as it not only slows your consumption of alcohol, but it will keep you (more) hydrated than if you’re purely downing shots!
2. Know your limits
Even the most experienced drinkers can get carried away when enjoying a night out. It’s important to get to know your alcohol limits, and also understand that these limits may change daily depending on how much you’ve eaten, the length of time you’ve been drinking and any physical activity you’ve undertaken that day.
3. Make sure your phone is fully charged
There’s no doubt you’ll be taking your phone with you on a night out, but have you checked its battery level after a full day on Tiktok? What if you need to find a mate? Call a taxi? Or even worse, get in touch with emergency services? Giving your phone a few hours’ charge before a night out is a great addition to your pre-drinking routine.
4. Use power-saving modes
If you do forget to charge your phone, switch to power-saving modes to savour the battery you have left. This can be a great idea in general – especially if you’ve spent all evening taking selfies at the pub– there’s only so much a phone battery can handle (even after being fully charged!).
5. Write down your address
If you’re known for becoming forgetful after a few drinks, or you’ve just moved to a new city, writing your address in your phone’s notes page can be helpful if you’re stuck in a taxi with no recollection of how to get home.
With some phones, you can also add messages to the lock screen. So, if you’re prone to losing your phone on a night out, including your address and/or a friend’s number on your lock screen might be a good idea!
6. Keep an eye on your drinks
One of the most important parts of staying safe on a night out is looking after your drinks. If you need to head to the toilet, ask your mates to keep an eye on your pint, or even place a clean coaster over the top to prevent a ‘drive-by’ spiking!
You can also buy drug testing strips online. We’re not saying test your drink every time you set it down, but if you do suspect that something may have happened, it can be reassuring to check and also stops you having to splash out on another drink!
7. Stick with your mates
Most friend groups have different types of drunks on a night out… and there’s always the one that goes wandering, disappears for an hour and then returns like nothing happened (if you don’t have a friend like this in your circle… it might be you!).
As they say, there’s safety in numbers and it’s always a good idea to travel as a group. An extra pair of eyes on your drink, a few extra people to remember the route home if you’re on foot. Oh, and don’t forget a cheaper fare if you opt for a taxi!
8. Know how you’re getting home
Having an action plan for every night out is sensible. A common place to meet if you lose each other. A mode of transport for the route home. Those sorts of things.
If you’ve just moved to your new city, you’ll get to know the transport links over time. But it’s good to know the basics of how you’ll get home before you even go out. Are there taxi ranks near where you’re going out? Does your uni have a walking taxi scheme or night buses?
Before you head out, you may want to speak to your uni about approved taxi schemes and save the numbers in your phone. Many unis have partnerships with city taxi firms, where if students are left without money, they offer them a safe ride home and you can pay the fare at a later date.
9. Follow guidance on needle spiking
2021 has seen a new form of spiking called ‘needle spiking’. You’ve probably seen it in the news, but women across the UK have reported being spiked in clubs with the use of needles or syringes containing drugs.
This is a very new topic and police are still investigating reports being made, but there are some resources out there to help:
Staying safe and preventing needle spiking
Before we begin, we’d mention again that it’s disheartening to be sharing tips for women to modify their own behaviour to prevent such a violation of their human rights. But for safety, they’re important to share. The website talktofrank.com has published a series of tips to stay safe and prevent any form of spiking:
- Plan your night out, including where you’re going and how you’re getting back. Charge your phone in advance.
- Make sure you’re going to licensed pubs/clubs – venues must legally take steps to keep their customers safe.
- Travel with friends and look out for each other.
- Stay aware of your surroundings and remove yourself from situations where you feel uncomfortable.
- Only leave a venue with someone you feel comfortable with. Think very carefully about whether you should be leaving with someone you’ve just met.
What to do if you think you’ve been spiked
Getting spiked is scary and we hope you never have to experience it, but it’s important to know what to do just in case. talktofrank.com suggests:
- Seek help from a trusted friend and/or the venue management team. If you’re feeling unsafe or vulnerable, head to the bar and Ask for Angela – this is a scheme rolled out by police to many bars and clubs in the UK to support people who may be in trouble.
- Get someone you trust to take you home or to the hospital. If you’re on your own, ring someone to come and collect you. If you head home, ask someone to stay with you until the effects of the spiking have worn off.
- Avoid leaving with a stranger or someone you don’t trust.
- Never be afraid to seek help from emergency services if you need it.
What if a friend has been spiked?
If you’ve noticed a friend acting strange and suspect they may have been spiked, the BBC suggest you do the following:
- Stay with your friend and keep them talking.
- Call an ambulance if they seem to be getting worse.
- Stay with them – don’t let them go home on their own.
- Make sure they don’t leave the venue with someone you don’t know or trust.
- Discourage them from drinking more alcohol.
- Remember that tests carried out in the first 24-72 hours are most likely to pick up drug traces.
10. Keep your valuables safe
It’s also worth making sure you have suitable student insurance in place throughout your time at uni – just in case the worst happens and one of your most valuable items gets damaged or stolen.
If you’re staying in student accommodation, you may already have cover through your accommodation provider. You can find out if you’re covered and confirm your cover here on the My Endsleigh app.
If you don’t have exact cover you need (for example, you’re covered in your halls, but not out and about), you can also top up this cover in the app.
If you’re not covered, or you aren’t staying in student accommodation, you can also use the My Endsleigh app to find a level of cover that’s right for you!
Find out more about gadget insurance here.