3 Ways Students Can Stay Safe Over Winter Break

During the holidays, many students partake in holiday festivities, and often either knowingly or unknowingly put themselves at risk.

As the holidays quickly approach, students are anxiously anticipating the break from the rigor of classes and the early alarm clock sounding.  During the holidays, many students partake in holiday festivities, and often either knowingly or unknowingly put themselves at risk. While many students will enjoy late night parties, visiting clubs and attending various social events, the need for responsible behavior is imperative.  Here are some tips that can help keep students (and everyone else) safe.



  1. Drinking and driving don’t mix: The number of traffic fatalities significantly increases during the holidays as more drivers travel and many will consume alcoholic beverages just prior to or while driving.  Unfortunately, drunken driving accidents and fatalities dramatically increase over the winter holidays.  At Christmas, for example, highway fatalities related to drunken driving increase from an average of 36 per day to 45 per day.  The New Year’s holiday statistics are even more alarming, with fatalities rising to 54 per day (Occupational Health & Safety, 2007).  Students can take an active role in preventing injuries by identifying a designated driver prior to attending holiday festivities, calling others who have not been drinking for a ride home, or taking a cab, bus or metro to their designation.  Students should remember to never drive with a friend who has been drinking and to take the keys of individuals who have been consuming alcohol to prevent self-injury from occurring.
  2. Beware of drugged alcoholic beverages: Drinking alcohol can also lead to other risky situations, such as becoming prey to intentional poisonings (also known as unintentional drugging).  Each year, 15,000 women and men are drugged, typically in social settings, without their knowledge or consent (Mozes, 2011).  Of these intentional poisonings, 63% of the victims are women with the majority being drugged by unknown perpetrators.   Individuals who drug others typically do so to engage in acts of violence such as sexual assault, robbery or to perpetuate an injury (Mozes, 2011).  Stay alert in social situations by never leaving beverages unattended. Additionally,  always go to unknown settings with a group or another friend,  and don’t accept a drink or food item that is given directly to you by an individual. 
  3. Don’t leave clubs or social settings with unknown individuals: While leaving a social setting with a newly acquainted person may seem harmless, statistics show that there are indeed dangers from strangers for adults as well as children.  It is estimated that on any given day in the United States, 100,000 individuals are considered missing and tens of thousands disappear under suspicious circumstances (Ritter, 2007).  Disappearances can happen anywhere and often closer to home than one may think.  Just last year, a pregnant undergraduate student went missing in January and is still unaccounted for (Smith, 2011).  While the education of children in stranger danger is well known, few adults consider the possibility that abduction and subsequent foul play can occur at any age.  Students should remain vigilant of their surroundings, avoid being isolated and alone, avoid unsafe areas, walk in well lighted areas, and never go with an unknown individual.  Students should not travel or walk alone and should remain in groups. 

With a little thought, planning, and due diligence, the holidays can provide a much-needed rest and reprieve from the vigor of school and studying.  Using smart safety practices can ensure that students avoid dangerous circumstances and guarantee a safe and happy holiday break.  

Michele R. Davidson is an associate professor of nursing at George Mason University.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

Photo via Flickr, Kevin Dooley

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