How to stay safe over spring break

Alex Johnson

Cold drinks, warm weather, and a week of no work — these things make spring break one of the most popular times of year for college students. However, there are many legal and safety issues that students don’t realize could impact their vacation.

Many students travel out of state during this time of year, some even travel abroad. Being far away from home or campus can be exciting, but also dangerous to students if they let their guard down.

Student Legal Services attorney Chris Sestak covered five important spring break safety tips for students during a presentation in the Kent Student Center on March 13.

1. Break-ins

Whether it’s a dorm room, apartment or house, students should make sure the place they stay in is well-secured and their belongings are kept out of reach from burglars and thieves.

Securing doors, keeping valuable belongings locked away and checking that windows and other entry points are sealed are the best ways to make sure personal items aren’t taken.

Making sure animals are still well-taken care of while away is also something pet-owners should consider.

2. Unintentionally breaking the law

“A lot of students like to travel to Florida for spring break, and they don’t always realize that the laws are different,” Sestak said.

Popular vacation spots know that college students love to party, Sestak said, so they account for large influxes of people during times of the year when they would be on break. Students don’t always realize the major differences in the legality of different behaviors or substances, and local police often benefit from stopping unwitting lawbreakers.

Additionally, students often end up in far more trouble for crimes committed out of state since they believe the risk is the same.

Drug laws in Florida, specifically those related to non-medicinal marijuana use, can often be more strict. For instance, any possession of the substance over 20 grams is considered a felony, whereas Ohio law requires a much larger amount for a such a punishment following decriminalization.

3. Financial traps

Sestak also said travelers should be careful when making reservations, since there are often travel scams and tricks where individuals pose as real or reliable hotel and lodging authorities.

Using services like Orbitz or Expedia can help mitigate issues of fraud or financial danger. It also prevents students from making financial investments in scam services.

Students should secure their apps and money, said Sestak.

“Use a credit card or Apple Pay in case someone steals your belongings,” he said. “You don’t want them to be able to access that.” 

4. Interpersonal dangers 

“There’s a lot of freaks on spring break,” Sestak said. “With that said, it’s important to stay aware. Don’t be paranoid but have common sense.”

He advised students to stay with people they know.

“A good rule of thumb is: go out with your friends, go home with your friends,” Sestak said.

Similarly, Sestak mentioned that the people should not visit ATMs on their own when making a transaction.

Social media also plays a big role in staying safe over break.

“Don’t post obsessively,” Sestak said. “When we put ourselves online, we’re subject to the whole world.”

Sestak said that a lot of employers can see what you put on social media, so it’s important to remember to carefully Snapchat and avoid drunk posts.

5. General driving safety

Reinforcing the importance of knowing laws, Sestak said that being aware of general driving safety rules can help keep students out of trouble if they’re travelling across state lines.

For instance, not exceeding 10 mph above or below the speed limit can help to ensure that they are kept out of trouble. Keeping their car maintained, wearing a seatbelt, and making sure the vehicle in use is insured are all things that vacationers can do to prevent trouble.

Alex Johnson is the safety reporter. Contact him at [email protected]