I will admit to being an inveterate barfly. Give me an establishment filled with interesting folks and a good craft beer selection and I’ll happily while away the hours swapping stories and enjoying life. I suspect many of you have some version of this—be it a nightclub or a honky-tonk, we all need a place to escape from time to time.
And while these might be great avenues for takin’ a break from all your worries, they can, sadly, be a prime place for crime to happen. It’s no secret that there’s a strong correlation between crime and drugs/alcohol. While that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a night out on the town, there are some easy steps you can take to prevent something bad from happening.
Choose your venue carefully.
I’m not saying that you should never venture out of your comfort zone, but at least take a moment to consider the place you are going. Location, vibe, the clientele: all can indicate if there’s a potential safety risk or not.
There’s safety in numbers.
Going out with a group of friends is a solid step to avoid problems. You can keep tabs on each other, and provide an out from a difficult or uncomfortable situation. Don’t forget to make sure everyone is home safe at the end of the evening—a quick text can do a lot.
Keep an eye on your possessions and drinks.
I recommend traveling light while bar-hopping—a large purse, briefcase, or laptop bag is just another thing that can get lost or stolen, and can turn you into a potential target for a mugging. Likewise, be careful with your drink. Slipping someone a sedative in order to take advantage of them is a disgustingly common trick. Watch it being made/poured and keep it close thereafter. Yes—this means taking it to the bathroom with you if you can’t leave it with a friend.
Use good judgment while mingling with new people.
I love making new friends, and it’s my favorite part of going out. However, not everyone has good intentions, so take some time to get a feel for a new person before leaving with them to another location. Having them tag along with you and your crowd is probably safer. And toward that end . . .
Trust your gut.
Don’t override that voice inside you telling you something’s not right. Even if it’s wrong, you’ll have a hard time relaxing and enjoying yourself. If a situation, location, or person feels “off”, go ahead and boogie on out of there.
Have an exit plan.
Uber is a great resource for this, but having the number of a local cab company or a trusted, sober friend is also good. Make sure you have the cash for cab fare and don’t blow it on anything else.
If carrying concealed, know your laws.
If you plan on carrying a firearm while going out, you should know exactly where you are going and the laws involving concealed carry in establishments that serve alcohol. Each state has different laws and may apply to not only bars but restaurants that serve alcohol. If you can’t carry a firearm, at least carry pepper spray if you are legally allowed to.
Don’t drink and drive. Seriously, please don’t.
This is all common sense combined with situational awareness, but giving it some forethought can make the evening a lot smoother and more enjoyable. So take some time to plan for your own safety, and then get out there and have fun. I’ll drink one in your honor next time I’m out on the town.