College is not only a place for learning and academia – it is also a place where you discover more about yourself, meet new people, and generally, have a bit of partying.  For freshman with a new taste of freedom, it is easy to get carried away and practice some unsafe partying habits.  Here are some tips for the incoming freshman (and others who need a refresher) to having a good time at a party while also staying safe.

Use the Buddy System

Always go to parties with friends and use the buddy system.  If you are going to separate, tell your friends where you are going and arrange a meeting place and time to meet back up again.  The buddy system means that you got each other’s back and won’t let the other get hurt.

Have a Safe Word

Ladies… have you ever been to a party or out somewhere and had a creep hit on you repeatedly, despite the fact that you’ve told him off?  For this very reason, my friends and I created a safe word.  Our word is “strawberry daiquiri” and by using it, we can communicate with our friends to get us out of there when a situation gives us the creeps.  We get creative in using it too, sometimes checking in with one another by simply saying, “You thirsty for a strawberry daiquiri or are you fine with what you are drinking?”.

Watch What You Drink

While the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, pretty much every college campus has alcohol at parties.  Remember that if you are under age and drinking, there can be some serious legal and sometimes school consequences to getting caught drinking. Nonetheless, if you are going to drink – please do so responsibly.  That means knowing when to stop so that you don’t end up throwing up all night (gross!) or passing out.  Drinking responsibly also means having a designated driver or cash on hand for a cab.  If you are going to drink, be sure to stay hydrated (alcohol dehydrates you) and eat a big meal beforehand so that alcohol doesn’t hit you so quickly.  And above all else – pace yourself.  It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and feel pressured in to drink way too much but stick to your guns on this one.  Your body will thank you when you aren’t puking for hours on end, blacking out, suffering from an intense hangover headache, or getting alcohol poisoning (which does kill!)

Watch What is Inside Your Drink

ALWAYS keep your eyes on your drink and never accept a drink from a stranger or acquaintance.  It is so easy for someone to slip something in your drink without you even noticing.  Never set your drink down and always cover the top of the cup with your hand or a napkin.  The date rape drug (also known as Flunitrazepam) is odorless, colorless, and tasteless – making it super easy for any creep to slip it in your drink without you ever knowing.

Trust Your Instincts

If you feel uncomfortable or scared or nervous in any way, high tail it out of there.  Your instincts are generally a good sign of whether or not you are safe – if you get any sort of bad feeling, run and don’t look back.  You have nothing to be ashamed for in running and in fact, it is better to cut your losses and leave rather than stay and risk getting hurt.   Trust me, 9 times out of 10, you’ll be happy you followed your gut.

[Photo Courtesy of Flickr User Cherrylet and used with a C.C 2.0 License]