What to Do When a Night Out Goes Wrong
Even with all the planning and best intentions in the world, a good night out can sometimes go wrong. When it does, alcohol is nearly always the cause.
In 2004 American researchers surveyed over 300 people involved in bar fights and found that several circumstances contributed to the risk of violence in public situations – and, besides alcohol, the three most likely are high volumes of noise, crowding and the presence of more men than women. But outranking them by eight to one is alcohol: if you drink you are eight times more likely to be involved in public violence or to see it happening. So what can you do when things start to go wrong?
Getting LostIf you become separated from your friends, keep calm. Send your friends a text to say where you are. If you don’t know where you are, try to find a street sign or other indication, rather than asking a stranger, because letting people know that you’re lost and alone can escalate the risk of trouble like pick-pocketing or assault. Pick a brightly lit place to meet up with your friends and stay there until they arrive.
Missing Your Transport HomeIf you lose track of time it’s easy to miss the last bus or train, or the coach back to your hotel or campsite but before you panic, the situation isn’t hopeless. Text your friends and see if anybody else needs to get home – you might find somebody else is stranded too and you can get a taxi together or walk more safely than a single person alone. Ask the police, a member of the bar staff, or other responsible individual if there’s a night bus or mini-bus transport that you can use. Many city centres have special ‘mop up’ buses that go round to clear the streets of drunks.
Never take a lift from anybody you don’t know really well. And don’t try to walk home alone. You’re better going to a night shelter like those run by the Samaritans or a centrepoint where others are gathering for early transport than isolating yourself in the dark. If all else fails, call home and see if somebody can come and pick you up – a bit of ear-bending is better than being stuck alone in a strange place.
Theft Or LossNothing turns a good night bad quicker than losing your keys/wallet/phone, but there are steps you can take to manage this risk.
Never keep your phone and your wallet together. That way if you lose one, you will probably still have the other.
If your possessions have been stolen, tell the police immediately. Sometimes, if they have information that a known thief is in the vicinity, they can even recover your property before the end of the evening. If it’s your phone that’s gone missing, tell your network provider so they can block the handset and stop anyone else from running up a bill. If it’s your keys, tell anybody else who lives in the premises so that they can take steps for their own safety – remember you can always call 100 from a phone box to reverse the charges to any landline so you can still call people to get help.
Getting IllTell a friend if you’re not feeling well and ask them to come with you while you get some fresh air, a drink of water and sit down for a while to help sort yourself out. Carry some sweets to suck on, as low blood sugar can combine with alcohol to make you nauseous. Don’t go out alone, as if you do become worse, you’re an obvious target for mugging or assault.
15% of the calls made to the London Ambulance Service on weekends are alcohol related, so try to drink responsibly and try to keep your friends on the safe side too. Many towns have patrolling paramedics during busy weekends and if it’s a friend who is unwell, ensure they are lying on their side in case they throw up, if they pass out, try to keep them awake, and call 999 or ask somebody to contact the paramedic patrol for you. While you are waiting, keep them warm and loosen any tight clothing that restrict their breathing, and try to find out what they’ve drunk and if their drink could have been spiked or whether they were in a fight or fell over – it all helps the medics to give them proper care.