This is part one of a three part series on how to stay safe in town. Or rather how to enjoy yourself in town safely. It’s an easy thing to do. Cardiff is a relatively small and safe city. Most people go out and have a good time with no issues. But that doesn’t mean bad things never happen or that you’ll never get caught up in them.
There are some simple things you can do to ensure your personal safety and most of them revolve around the sensible consumption of alcohol. This is not because we’re prudish or bores but because alcohol is involved in most cases of violent crime in Cardiff and in the majority of student crime in the city. Remember: It Only Takes One.
There’s no getting away from the point that drinking in town can be expensive. It’s why some people decide to front or pre-load. This is where shop bought booze is consumed at home before hitting town. You may even have seen some pubs and bars renaming their happy hours as pre-load or pre-lash sessions. The idea is that you’re pre-loaded with drinks and already drunk, meaning you don’t have to spend lots of money in bars getting drunk. Simple economic sense!
Unfortunately what tends to happen is that some people spend what they would have in town in Tesco, buying and consuming more booze than they would have and usually down it in a shorter amount of time. Also people tend to continue drinking when they get to town regardless.
So rather than drinking in a relatively safe environment where staff can keep an eye on things and (in the worst case scenario) a first-aider is available, some pre-loaders arrive in town already highly intoxicated. We’ve heard numerous stories of people rolling out of a taxi, entering a club, falling down the stairs and heading to the hospital; their night out lasting about five minutes.
Your ability to ensure your personal safety and avoid confrontations is severely restricted by excessive alcohol consumption i.e. the drunker you are the more likely you’re going to get into trouble (whether you want to or not). Starting early and starting hard won’t help you deal with potential problems at kicking out time.
One tip to remember is that rather than stocking up on loads of booze in the supermarket you’d be better off picking up some dinner. You may have heard people talking about “lining their stomach” and it’s true, food will help absorb alcohol and limit the effects of it. I was going to list the calories in alcoholic drinks here but after speaking to a policeman about it I don’t think I’ll bother. He said that people use the information as a reason to not eat dinner rather than ease off the drinks so they don’t exceed their daily calorie intake. Seriously.
But if you do have a few drinks while you’re getting ready, try and make sure it’s just that, a few. There’s no need to dramatically change your drinking habits just because you’re drinking in the house. Same applies if you’re just starting university; it can be a nervy time, meeting lots of new people, trying to fit in. You’ll find it harder if you’re completely wasted. Likewise in the first few weeks of term you may not have anyone looking out for you when you get in a state. It’s never a nice feeling waking up the next morning regretting what you did the night before.
Also while you’re in the shop pick up some condoms. Alcohol lowers sexual inhibitions and it’s best to prepared. Make sure you take them with you as you might not go back to yours at the end of the night.
Some other things to put in your pocket/wallet/purse/handbag (you get the gist) are enough money for a taxi back and your ID. Challenge 21, Challenge 25 whatever, it’s still a good idea to have proper ID; no one argues with a passport or a driving licence and places should accept the Citizen Card although you might get some hassle. Fake IDs are pretty much useless now and aside from not getting a drink and being asked to leave an establishment, the act of carrying fake ID is technically a criminal offence, although the police very rarely prosecute.
One final thing to have before you leave the house is comfy shoes, or at least shoes you won’t have to take off to walk around at the end of the night. This might sound stupid but people wade through broken glass and vomit at the end of the night in town and cut up feet is a real issue for emergency services. That’s why the Street Pastors carry free flip-flops on them. But more on that in the final part of this series.