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Bulls’ guide to staying safe this Halloween

Students should plan ahead for transportation and stay in groups to stay safe. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/UNSPLASH

Halloween is a great opportunity for students to go out and unwind after midterm season, but it’s important to prioritize safety first. 

If you’re planning to celebrate, there are certain things to keep in mind this Halloween – from finding transportation to keeping an eye on your drink. 

Here are some tips students can use to make this Halloween a safe one.

Alternative transportation

With the weekend’s upcoming festivities, students should plan how they’ll get around ahead of time.

For many students, driving themselves will not be an option. If students plan to drink at any point during the night, they shouldn’t get behind the wheel.

Drunk driving is illegal and dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 159 deaths on Halloween from 2017 to 2021 as a result of drunk-driving crashes.

Safer alternatives for students include booking a ride with ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft, riding the HART bus or using USF’s SAFE team. 

Ubers and Lyfts can be easily booked through their individual apps. Prices for these rides will be inflated due to Halloween price surges, but ride-sharing is a convenient, safe way to move around at night. 

If you do order an Uber or Lyft, make sure to always verify the driver’s identity before entering the car.

Students can also ride the HART Bus for free by showing their USF ID. The map and schedules for the HART Bus can be found on their website

There are several routes that travel from the USF area to downtown. Route 1 on Florida Avenue is a more direct option, and you can catch that bus at the University Area Transit Center (UATC). Route 5 on 40th Street and Route 9 on 15th/30th Street are other options that will take students downtown and can also be caught at the UATC.

Here are the times that the last bus departs from Marion Transit Center in downtown Tampa to the UATC for each route:

  • Route 1: Midnight on weekdays and 10 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Route 5: 11 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. on Saturdays
  • Route 9: 10 p.m. both weekdays and Saturdays

Those who want to go to Ybor City from downtown can take the TECO Streetcar. The TECO Streetcar is free and runs until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. More information can be found on the TECO website.

The HART bus’ Route 1 has a stop next to the Whiting Street Station, where students can board the streetcar and ride to the Centennial Park Station in Ybor City. 

If you’re planning to stay around campus, the USF Safe Team is an on-campus escort service that operates at night from 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. It’s a resource for students that don’t feel safe walking back alone late at night.

More information can be found on its page. SAFE Team can be reached at 813-974-SAFE (7233).

Safety in numbers

There is safety in numbers for Halloween. Make sure to have a group for the night and communicate plans. 

Individual people are bigger targets than groups. It is easier to overpower one person than multiple people especially if perception has been impaired after drinking.

Students should also ensure at least one person in the group has a charged, working phone and make plans in case the group gets separated. Never leave a location without everyone in the group, and don’t let friends leave with a stranger.

Watch your drink

A good rule of thumb for any outing is to never leave drinks unattended. This is because beverages can be spiked without anyone noticing. 

It is important to never accept drinks from strangers and only accept ones you have prepared or you have seen be prepared.

Some ways to detect if your drink has been spiked include a change in color or taste, excessive fizziness or a cloudy appearance. Sometimes there are no noticeable changes to drugged drinks. 

People that have been spiked might experience dizziness, sleepiness, difficulty controlling their body, blackouts and feeling more drunk from only a small amount of alcohol, according to Sunrise House Treatment Center. 

These are some steps you can follow if someone’s drink has been spiked:

  • Make sure they are in a safe place and away from the location where the drink was drugged.
  • Get help from someone trusted such as friends or security.
  • Go to the emergency room to assess what happened and collect potential evidence if sexual assault is suspected.
  • Have someone trusted supervise them while they recover.

Students should also look out for signs of alcohol poisoning in case individuals over consume alcoholic drinks. 

Signs that someone has alcohol poisoning include vomiting, confusion, trouble staying awake, irregular or slow breathing, seizures, low body temperature and a pale or blue-ish skin color.

Please make sure to call 911 immediately if you notice these signs. 

A person does not need to have all the symptoms to be in danger from alcohol poisoning. To prevent choking if they vomit while sitting, they should be leaned forward and if they are unconscious they should be turned on their side.

Costume comfort

Though Halloween gives students the opportunity to creatively express themselves, it is important to ensure that costumes don’t get in the way of a good time. 

Students should keep practicality in mind for plans involving a lot of walking or uneven terrain. For example, high heels or platforms could be swapped for more comfortable shoes like sneakers or flats. If your costume has a mask, you should also consider how it may impact visibility or breathing to ensure comfort and health. 

It’s important to note that while many Halloween costumes can reveal a lot of skin, that’s not an excuse for harassment and does not give implied consent. Resources for sexual harassment or assault at USF can be found at the Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention.