Last weekend was a rather worrying one for my family and I. My sister got lost on a night out in Cardiff, a largely unfamiliar city for her as it’s 50 miles away from home and an hour’s drive, so not a place we visit often for a night out. Not only that, but she’d also lost her handbag containing her money, credit card and mobile phone. As you can imagine, we were all going out of our minds with worry as we had no way of getting hold of her to find out whether she was safe or not. It was around 10am before my mum noticed a message in her ‘others’ folder on her Facebook Messenger account. My sister had borrowed somebody’s phone and sent a message from their Facebook account informing us where she was. She had very sensibly sought help from a Policeman who took her to a hospital to wait in the warmth.
Fortunately in this instance, my sister was ok, just cold, tired and hungry, but it’s certainly taught a lesson all round! It’s also inspired me to write a little post, with some helpful input from fellow bloggers, on how you can stay safe on a night out, to avoid getting into similar circumstances yourself, especially in the run up to the festive season with so many more people out celebrating.
1. Top tip: Katie from Living Life Our Way suggests “knowing a friend or family’s phone number from memory.” I agree! If you can, memorise a couple of important phone numbers just incase you lose your belongings like my sister did. My mum’s landline and mobile number are the only two phone numbers I know off by heart, which is quite an achievement in this day and age where phone numbers are just simply saved into a phone and forgotten about. If you really struggle to remember, write a couple down on a bit of paper and pop them into your bra or a hidden pocket inside your clothing. Kirstin from With Hope and a Swear also suggests keeping “enough money for a taxi in your shoe or bra so you can’t lose it.”
2. Make sure everyone has the taxi driver’s number to hand just incase you accidentally get split up. Also make sure you arrange a mutually convenient place to meet the taxi driver, somewhere that all members of your group are familiar with. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, try and remember some nearby landmarks to make it easier to ask for directions if you get lost. Sally from Life Loving agrees: “Always agree on a meeting point, so if you do get separated and can’t get hold of each other, you know where to meet. We say “meet on the hour at this point…” That way everyone knows a time and a place.”
3. Find someone trustworthy for help, such as a police officer. In a lot of towns and cities, they have voluntary organisations such as the Street Pastors, who take to the streets to help those in need during busy nights. They don’t judge, so don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help. They help in various ways, such as picking up broken glass, giving out directions or even supplying those in need with flip flops, bottled water and foil blankets.
4. If you’re going somewhere new or far away from home, adopt the ‘designated driver’ rule and appoint a designated person to stay sober to keep everyone together and ensure that no one is left behind. If you’re not keen on this idea, drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink so that you’re more aware of what’s going on. Remember to keep an eye on your drinks at all times.
5. “I have found the iPhone ‘find your phone/find your friends’ features to be very helpful.” – Anisha from Fashion and Frappes
6. Rebecca from Pocahontas Jane has a great tip: “Use social media. I’ve seen Twitter help many people who are lost and in need of assistance. Just don’t waste your battery.” My sister, as mentioned, used a strangers’ Facebook account to send an SOS message, but due to Facebook’s high privacy settings, a couple of hours had passed before we actually realised there were messages in another folder. If your group are notorious for splitting up, ask a family member and/or friends who aren’t going with you to keep an eye on their ‘others’ folder until they know you are all home safe and sound.
7. Vicky from The Curved Opinion says “Establish a relationship with a taxi firm whom you know will look after you. If you always use the same firm, you get to recognise the drivers and they will get to know you. They will look after regular customers and it doesn’t hurt to tip them occasionally too!” Where I live, everyone knows everyone, so we are familiar with all of our local taxi drivers. The driver who collected the rest of the girls last week gave up hours of his time to help search for my sister, which was such a kind thing for him to do.
8. If you’re a student, some Universities run a partnership scheme with local taxi firms. Sandeep from Sandeep Beep explains further about a scheme that was running during her time living in Leeds: “If you don’t have enough money for your fair home on a night out, then you could give your Student ID card to the driver. The following day you could go into Uni and pay your fair in order to get your Student Id card back. It meant that you always had the option to get home safely.” Check with your University to see if they operate a scheme like this, and if not, you could even put the idea forward yourself!
9. Mo from Adventures of a Novice Mum firmly points out that advanced planning is key. “Plan for safety – make sure your phone is fully charged, and if possible, have a power bank for further charging if needed. Plan a code word with your friends to indicate when you’re not comfortable and need them to help you out of a situation.”
10. Chrissie from Vamp It Up Manchester has one final piece of advice, for those thinking about doing a midnight flit. “A really important one, no one should just go home without telling the others or turn their phones off. It’s selfish and will totally panic everyone when they find you’ve disappeared. Message everyone to let each other know you got home safe.”
So there you have it. Ten top tips to staying safe on nights out. Can you see anything that we’ve forgotten to cover? Feel free to pop your suggestions in the comments for everyone to read. Let’s all encourage each other to stay safe and look out for each other!