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Safety 101: Situational Awareness

We are so excited to see your students returning to Starkville for the 2019 Spring semester! They keep things interesting and lively for us locals. Being a proud parent myself, I share in your excitement seeing them mature toward adulthood. I also know there is no end to your worries because parenting never ends! We worry about everything - from their grades, their laundry, their health, to their choice in friends -but most of all, we worry ourselves sick about their safety. We want your student to feel safe here. Compared to other cities, Starkville has a much lower rate of crime; but by no means does that mean we are exempt from crime all together. It is very important for you to have ongoing, serious discussions with your student to remind them that no one is invincible. Here are a few safety tips from Ole Town Med to help your student stay safe and aware before they leave coming to our beautiful town!

• PRIORITY ONE: TO REMAIN SITUATIONALLY AWARE That shortcut down a dark alley? Bad idea. That free parking spot next to a van in a dark parking lot? Rethink it. Criminals generally target those they see as most vulnerable and least likely to put up a fight. In fact, 90% of people are subdued by verbal commands alone. Having one too many drinks or keeping your eyes down on your phone can make you the perfect target. Same goes for walking around alone, with your ear buds in, blasting music. • ALWAYS RUN IN A PACK This goes for shopping, sightseeing, exercising outdoors, to celebrating! All these activities are much needed when you are bogged down with studying and working most days - just be safe while enjoying your break! • ALWAYS let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you expect to return

This is just an extra precaution, in case you were to run into trouble, people know where you were supposed to be and when you should have been home.

If your plans change, let someone know – CALL instead of text, to make sure they get the message. Also, there are several apps out there, some free of charge, that allow you to create a circle of friends on it sharing your location at all times - some even have a feature which allows you create a panic alarm on all of your connected friends’ phones. • NEVER text and drive We all THINK we can multitask while we are driving, but so did those who have been seriously injured or have injured someone else or even been in fatal accidents! Just don’t do it; for your safety and for the safety of others on the road. • NEVER drink and drive It makes no sense to do this anyway. Starkville has taxi services and UBER that will take you anywhere you need to go! • NEVER share your address or contact information I recently learned a safer way to share your contact info; email address. Even with that hot new stranger you just met at the bar! (GEEZ!! REALLY?! I hear Ted Bundy was pretty hot too!) Be careful about letting just anyone into your home. If you have a study group or first “hang out” date with a friend or love interest, meet them in a public place or common area of your dorm or apartment complex. Once you get to know someone better, and confirm they’re not a creeper, you can share your phone number. • ALWAYS know your emergency contact numbers This includes home, campus and the City of Starkville…. BEFORE the emergency! This only makes perfect sense...right? • ALWAYS watch your drinks at a bar Date rape drugs are real and they work very well. These drugs have no odor or taste which make them undetectable in your fruity drink. Unless you have a cup that changes colors when drugs are present. Yes, you read that right! You can actually purchase these cups to take with you when you plan to have a drink outside your home. They are even working on the development of a fingernail polish that changes colors when it comes in contact with these drugs… pretty awesome, right?! With a little preparation and situational awareness, it is not difficult to stay safe anywhere. In the situation of a minor medical emergency, take advantage of the many urgent care medical facilities. If you need immediate attention for a more life-threatening situation, please go to the Emergency Room of our hospital, OCH Regional Medical Center.

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