The following post was written by the IHQ Harm Prevention Team.

As a college student, Halloween is often a highly anticipated event. From finding the perfect costume to hitting the party scene with your friends, it can be a spirited evening, week or even month of events. On a college campus, however, Halloween comes with potential safety risks. Assault, alcohol poisoning and voluntary or involuntary ingestion of illegal substances occur at higher rates during this time of year.

As you plan your night out, follow these tips to take precautionary measures while still having a fun, memorable Halloween experience.

Have a plan

Before you go out for the night, know your plan for getting home. This could be utilizing a university safe ride or bus system, public transportation, a taxi/Uber/Lyft service, walking with a friend(s) or having a designated driver in your friend group. If using a ride-share service, be sure to ask the driver “What’s my name?” before entering the vehicle.

Stay alert

If you decide to consume alcohol on Halloween, stay alert. Make your own drink, watch your drink being made, bring your own or open it yourself. Never leave your drink unattended. Need to use the restroom? Take your drink with you or hand it to a trusted friend. Do not leave it left unattended.

Know your limits

Before you head out, decide the number of drinks you will consume and prepare to say no and resist the urge to go over your limit. Need help tracking your limits? Download an app on your phone (BAC Buddy, BAC Calculator, etc.), keep tabs on your phone via Notes or mark your wrist with a pen to keep count.

Use the buddy system

If you and your friends attend a Halloween party together, stick together throughout the night. Discourage group members from venturing off alone. If someone is adamant about doing so, make sure everyone else knows their general whereabouts. Before going out, designate a central meeting point in case anyone in the group gets separated. Create a group message where everyone can communicate or activate location sharing on your smart phone.

Fully charged

It might be a no brainer, but ensure your phone is fully charged before you leave home. Also, turn on your phone’s volume and vibration in case someone tries to reach you. Do you have at least one friend’s number memorized? If not, write it down and put it in your pocket in case you lose your phone.

Trust your instincts

If something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. It could be indulging in one more drink or accepting an invitation to leave your group of friends—no matter what it might be, feel confident to take pause and make the best decision for you.

Do not get behind the wheel

Halloween or not, it’s never smart to drink and drive or to ride with someone who has been drinking. If you choose to remain sober and offer rides to friends, be extra careful on the roads. Remain alert and cautious of other drivers. If you see another vehicle driving erratically or something looks off, call authorities and report it.

It’s OK to stay home

Not into the party scene? That’s totally okay, too! Stay in with a group of friends, watch scary movies, carve pumpkins and eat some candy.

Event themes and costumes

Be thoughtful when choosing an event theme or costume by remembering themes and costumes should NOT be disrespectful or degrading to any person or group of people, culture or organization. This includes themes that stereotype women or racial/ethnic groups.

For more information, check out last year’s post on culture appropriation here.

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