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Personal Safety on Halloween

October 22, 2017
Allen W. Groves, University Dean of Students

Dear Students:

As October comes to a close and just over six weeks of classes remain in the semester, I'm reaching out to briefly discuss two important issues. I respectfully ask that you take a moment to read what follows.

This email includes information on:

  • ADAPT's Safe Halloween Campaign
  • Halloween safety, particularly around alcohol

I recognize most students do not engage in hazardous drinking. Those who do place their own health and safety at risk, and also impact their friends around them. Each year at this time, we see an increase in alcohol consumption and the often serious consequences that follow.

Be a Superhero! Look out for your friends. Sign the pledge saying you'll intervene if you see a problem situation. Know your resources so you can help.

I am grateful so many of you understand the importance of being an active bystander, calling 911, or seeking other assistance when you see someone at risk.

Below are resources and tips provided by the ADAPT peer educators and my colleagues in the Gordie Center at Student Health. The first 1,000 people to sign ADAPT's Halloween Safety Pledge to be an active bystander this Halloween will receive a free water bottle and candy. Students can also sign the pledge during ADAPT's Halloween Game Night on October 24 in Ern Commons.

Halloween Safety

  • Always carry a photo ID and a fully charged cellphone.
  • Make thoughtful choices in selecting a costume. Be sensitive to how others may perceive your costume or party theme.
  • Some people with harmful intentions may take advantage of being unrecognizable in a Halloween costume. Stay in an environment where you can easily get help or move away from someone who is threatening your safety. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid wearing a costume that does not allow you to see and move freely. Be sure decorations are nonflammable (and use flameless candles).
  • Utilize all safety resources, such as Safe Ride, Charge-a-Ride, and the UVA Ambassadors, who provide security in areas near the Corner.

Alcohol Safety

I hope you will avoid alcohol if you are under the legal age to drink. Even if you are of legal age, use of alcohol may pose serious safety risks. If you do choose to drink, several simple precautions can minimize risks to yourself and others.

  • Pace and Space: Sip your drink instead of chugging, alternate with water or soda, and have no more than one (1) drink per hour. On average, it takes nearly three (3) hours for most people to eliminate the alcohol in two (2) standard drinks.
  • Eat before and while drinking: Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly when there is food (especially protein) in your stomach.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs: Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs (antihistamines and sedatives, for example) can increase alcohol's effects. Caffeine and other stimulants can trick you into feeling less impaired.
  • Use caution when sick or tired: When you're sleep-deprived or ill, alcohol enters the bloodstream more quickly, causing BAC to spike.
  • Be aware of your environment: Alcohol can cause greater impairment when drinking in locations that are not typical for you.
  • Avoid "punches" and other drinks you did not make yourself. Punches often include high-concentration alcohol (such as grain alcohol) masked by a sweet taste. You should only drink what you mixed yourself or from a container you opened.
  • Stay in a group in which at least one person remains sober and make sure no one is left behind.
  • Look out for your friends who are drinking and keep in touch throughout the night.
  • Use "PUBS" as a guide to the symptoms of alcohol overdose and call 911 if you see even one sign. If you are unsure, call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for confidential, expert advice.
    • Puking while passed out
    • Unresponsive to stimulation (pinch or shaking)
    • Breathing (slow, shallow, or no breathing)
    • Skin (blue, cold, or clammy)
  • Concerned about your drinking? The BASICS program can help. It's confidential, nonjudgmental, and designed to assess potential risk and self-identify realistic changes that could work for you.

I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween. Following these simple safety tips will help ensure that occurs.


Allen W. Groves
University Dean of Students