Spring Break Safety
March 5, 2013
MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University will observe spring break Monday-Friday, March 11-15, and the WIU Office of Public Safety (OPS) and the Macomb Police Department (MPD) would like to remind individuals to safeguard personal property. Officers encourage individuals to lock offices, desks and residence hall room doors, as well as their vehicles and homes off campus when leaving to avoid becoming the victim of a burglary.
- Residence hall rooms, office doors and homes should be locked when the occupant(s) leave, even if it's just for a few moments.
- Don't leave backpacks, purses, bags, books and other items unattended.
- Avoid leaving items in plain view in a vehicle overnight; lock vehicles at all times.
- Consider taking valuable electronic items (i.e., laptops, computer tablets, e-readers, iPods, etc.) with you while you're going to be gone during break.
To help combat burglaries over spring break, the Macomb Police Department encourages individuals to take part in its newly launched Operation Identification burglary-prevention program. According to MPD, the Operation ID program involves marking property with an identifying number as a means of discouraging burglary and theft and provides a way for police to identify recovered stolen property.
The two basic components of Operation ID include:
- So that your property can be easily traced and identified, engrave your valuables with your driver's license number (engrave in two locations, in an area that can be easily seen and in one that cannot be easily seen), and then take a photograph of your property and keep the photo in a secure place. (Electronic engravers can be purchased at hardware stores, or individuals can borrow an engraver from the Macomb Police Department's records section between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday).
- Display a sticker that tells would-be burglars that your property has been marked.
Also, before leaving for any spring break trips, off-campus residents should ensure their windows are locked; stop mail and newspaper delivery so these items don't accumulate, which is an indication that no one is home; consider installing timers on interior lights and installing exterior motion-activated lights; leave a porch light on; and ask someone to check on the property.
In addition to securing belongings and residences, individuals should safeguard themselves:
- Trust your instincts and use good judgment.
- Use common sense. Avoid being alone or with someone you do not know.
- Communicate to others where you are going and with whom.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Walk in groups whenever possible.
- Travel in populated, well-lit areas.
- Observe the drinking laws of your destination.
If you decide to drink, Mary Margaret Harris, director of WIU's Beu Health Center, recommends taking steps to reduce your risk. It's also important to decide how many drinks you will have and stick to it.
"I urge students to make decisions about drinking before they start drinking and to never accept an open beverage from someone they don't know. To keep from getting intoxicated beyond reason, it does help to alternate nonalcoholic beverages with alcoholic beverages. Eat a full meal before drinking alcohol and add snacks throughout the time you are drinking. Know that spending time in the sun and drinking alcohol increases your risk of dehydration—so replace fluids with non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages," Harris said. "But one of the most important tips that everyone should know and take seriously is if you choose to drink, please have a non-drinking designated driver to get you home safely. Don't leave a friend alone if he or she has had too much to drink. Call for help if someone is unresponsive, or if breathing is greatly slowed. It's crucial for you to look out for one another."
If traveling abroad during spring break, know the laws and customs of the destination. Visit the U.S. Department of State's website, www.state.gov, which provides information specific to different countries.