Halloween is one of the most recognized holidays in America. Target starts stocking up on costumes, decorations, and candy by August. We spend our days carving pumpkins and watch Hocus Pocus at night. We flock to haunted houses and watch horror movies because we love all things spooky, at least in situations we can control—not so much with the scary things we can’t.There’s always a spike in crime around Halloween, which is the bad kind of scary. It’s important to be cautious all year round of course, but it’s especially important during Halloween and the days leading up to the holiday. Here are some tips on how to stay safe on a dark and stormy campus.
Know your campus’s resources
The spike in crime the week leading up to Halloween isn’t exclusive to teenagers egging houses. Especially in college, this rise relates to underage drinking, DUIs, and sexual assaults. This is why it's important to know what resources your campus offers. Sign up for text alerts or download apps regarding campus safety alerts. This will let you know if something happens somewhere on campus so you can avoid it.
Each campus has different ways of reporting crime. Information about campus safety and crime statistics must be available to students at institutions receiving federal funding and can usually be found on a college or university’s website. See what shuttle services are offered to get you around campus. Each system is unique, so it's important to figure out exactly what your school has to offer.
It’s also important to be able to defend yourself if you’re attacked, so learning self-defense could be vital to your personal safety. Many campuses offer free or inexpensive classes. A popular program on many campuses is Rape Aggression Defense Systems (RAD). You can see if there are any programs on campus or at another location near you here.
If you can’t find a class to take, watch one of the hundreds of videos online to help you learn some self-defense moves. These probably won’t work on the ghosts haunting your dorm, but they could help save you from a different kind of monster.
We all know “Halloweekend” is a popular time for huge parties in college. There are many things to steer clear from at these parties, and all of them are things that have been drilled into your brain, but that’s because they’re so important.
If you go to a party, never leave your drink unattended or accept an open one from someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s an alcoholic drink or not. Also, don’t wear a costume that’s too hard to move in. Not only will it be uncomfortable, but it can restrict your movement too much in case you need to get away quickly.
If you plan on drinking (remember that the legal drinking age is 21), find a safe ride home. Don’t become another depressing statistic. Your campus probably has a shuttle or discounted/free taxi service available so you can get back to your dorm safely and avoid getting a DUI.
If these services aren’t available on your campus, ask a trusted sober friend (designated driver) to bring you home. Companies like Uber and Lyft are also options, but be careful using these services. Avoid riding in one alone, especially while inebriated, and share your ride information with a friend if you do.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s vital to be aware of your surroundings. Fight the urge to check your phone when you’re walking, especially late at night. Keep an eye out and be aware what’s going on around you, like who’s doing what at the Halloween party. Use the same buddy system you’ve been using since your first kindergarten field trip: there is safety in numbers.
If you have to go somewhere alone, especially at night, make sure a friend or your roommate knows exactly where you’re going to be and when to expect you back. Apps like Find My Friends and Google Maps that allow location sharing in real time are especially helpful in these cases.
See something, say something
If you see something sketchy, report it. There’s a good chance your school has resources online that make reporting easy and anonymous. This could prevent the same thing from happening to someone else. Even if a big group of people all see the same thing, that doesn’t always guarantee it will be reported. Be the one to do something.
Related: Campus Safety: The Non-List
Halloween is a fun time, so enjoy your candy apples and bad scary movies, but remember to educate yourself on things to look out for. There is no way to guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen on or off campus, but being prepared offers a good chance of prevention.
Have a happy (and safe) Halloween! And if you need some last-minute help, here are some quick costumes you can try.