Staying safe for spring break

Vacations are fun, but be aware of potential dangers.

If you're going on spring break, there are a lot of safety tips to be aware of. Universities across the country, including MU, warn their students of potential dangers spring break could introduce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issues a spring break advice page. Here are some tips gathered from various sources:

Be aware of alcohol consumption

Even if you are planning to consume alcohol, be careful how much you consume and what you do while under the influence. Don't drink and drive, and be careful about going around a foreign city while intoxicated. You could get into trouble because you are unfamiliar with the laws, customs and language. Drinking on the street can get you arrested in some countries.

Don't set your drink down

Keep your eye on your drink so you can be sure no one slips drugs into it. These situations could be worse when you can't speak the local language and don't know where to go.

Police number

Know the local number for emergencies, as they are different in different countries. For example, Mexico's is 066, 060 or 080. Also, know the number for the local hospital, just in case.

Keep in touch

Never leave a bar or party alone or with a stranger. Update your parents or a friend at home, so if something does happen, they will have some information that they can give local law enforcement to help find you.

Avoid drug usage

Don't bring them with you, buy them or use them. You don't want to be imprisoned or tried in a court of law in a foreign legal system. Even if you are a minor, some countries will try you as an adult, and the penalties will not be worth the high.

Obey laws

Be aware of and follow the local laws. In emergencies, you could contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance, but they cannot arrange for your release from local custody.

Heed warning flags on beaches

If there's a red warning flag, don't enter the water, and if there are shark warnings, don't stay in the water if you cut yourself. Although it seems intuitive, many people drown each year because they don't pay attention to flags and get swept away by the current.

Be careful which taxi you enter

Only use licensed, regulated taxis. Some criminals operate illegal taxis and pick up unsuspecting victims. If you are unsure about a taxi, ask a restaurant or local business to call you one. Getting into a random cab on the street is a prime opportunity for abduction.

Don't carry any weapons

A pocketknife might be normal to have on you in the U.S., but it is not necessarily legal on foreign soil and can result in major weapons charges and penalties.

Don't carry cash in your hand

Whether you're just running to the store or coming from the ATM, be aware of who is around you, and put your money away immediately. If you are carrying cash in your hand, you are an easy target for theft. Be aware of how many valuables you have on you and how visible they are. You don't want to attract thieves or pickpockets.

Protection

Whether it's using sunscreen or a condom, know how to protect yourself if needed.

Crowds

Be extra careful in crowds, as you are especially susceptible to pickpockets. Especially in Mexico, be careful when you leave resorts or resort cities due to recent political turmoil and abductions. Ask your hotel consulate if there are any areas or people you should avoid.

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