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Always better to be safe ...

Tips to keep in mind when you're going out at night

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Pardon the interruption -- the following is a message from the unofficial emergency broadcast system.

Considering the unsettling recent events pertaining to the disappearance of Kyle Fleischmann from Uptown, I am turning my column into an after-school special: "Captain Safety in Safe Nightlife 101." I'm going to start off with a little story titled "Things not to do;" By: previously made mistakes.

I was up in N.Y.C. at Bungalow 8 when a hottie I'd been talking to handed me a glass of Dom Pérignon. Next thing I know, I wake up at Mount Sinai hospital being flushed of date rape drugs. Apparently, my friends noticed I was MIA and split up to search for me. One walked outside the bar where she found me face down on a street with said hottie hovering over me.

You see, you learn from mistakes made, and as in my case, when you're fortunate enough to live to learn them, then you better learn, damn it. You can't always ensure that your intuitive friends will be on hand to save your ass, so you need to watch out for your own.

Sometimes when we go out drinking, we tend to become less aware of our capabilities -- take singing and dancing for example -- but, in some instances, that includes baby-sitting ourselves. Alcohol sheds inhibitions, but don't let it shed your guard. Always keep the guard up and be aware of stranger danger! The only stranger you should accept a drink from is the bartender.

The most important thing to take with you is not just your I.D., but your instincts. Trust them. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think about driving home after drinking all night? Not a good idea. If something's telling you not take the shortcut or the staircase in the parking garage, then don't! And sure, paying $5 to park sucks, but it's a small price to pay for your safety. Don't park off the beaten path. My roommate learned that after getting robbed at gun point on Cedar Street.

Ladies, you don't need to be on someone's arm to look good, but it's helpful when walking at night. When you are walking by yourself, utilize your peripheral vision. Be aware of your surroundings. If someone approaches you, acknowledge them, but keep walking. Meanwhile, not going home with some guy you've just met at a bar isn't just about self respect. Don't drink yourself naïve and enter into a new environment solo. And if you insist on wandering away from the tour, let someone know you're leaving and where you're going.

We now return to your regularly scheduled program ...

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