With their finals exams – and their school careers – behind them, matrics are hitting the party trail all over the country, but as they relish their newfound freedom at a time of year when alcohol flows and the roads are busy, carefree fun can soon turn to tragedy.
“Sadly, every year there are incidents of matric deaths through road accidents, drinking, drug overdosing and more,” says Charnel Hattingh, the national marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.
“There are also numerous incidents of theft of valuable items and vandalism. We are appealing to matrics to party responsibly and never neglect their own personal safety.” She offers simple safety tips for matrics who will be celebrating away from home in a possibly unfamiliar area:
Before leaving your accommodation for the day or night, ensure that anything valuable is locked away in a drawer or safe.
Never carry large amounts of cash or go out wearing flashy or expensive jewellery.
If your accommodation is a holiday house or apartment, make sure all the doors are locked, the windows are properly shut and that the alarm is activated if a system is installed.
When out at different events and activities, be aware of your surroundings and arrange with your friends to keep an eye on each other and your belongings.
If you are approached by a suspicious individual; walk away and report it to the closest security or to the police.
Do not accept drinks from strangers and do not leave your drinks unattended. Spiking of drinks is still rife. When it is time to return to your accommodation after a night out:
Never leave without your friends.
Do not accept a lift from a stranger; rather use transport provided by the event organisers.
Driving after a few drinks is never an option. Call a cab or use event shuttles if they are available instead.
Consider appointing a designated driver or someone who agrees not to drink and will be responsible for getting everyone home safely.
“Parents, please speak to your kids and share these tips with them. The reality is that matrics will be partying. Let’s encourage them to do it as responsibly as possible,” said Ms Hattingh.
“It may also be worth speaking to your security provider about personal safety apps that are available as well as services such as Meet and Greets to ensure peace of mind.