LUPD physically checks the houses of registered residences at least once a week over break. The officers walk around the outside and makes sure there is no suspicious activity. (Aminat Ologunebi/B&W Staff)

Spring break safety: students advised to stay aware, prepare

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With spring break just days away, students are finalizing their plans.

Before leaving Bethlehem for the week there are many safety and health issues students should be prepared for.

Leaving off-campus homes unattended over break is an unavoidable risk. Lehigh University Police Department Chief Edward Shupp said an unattended home is open for theft and burglary.

“Students should register their homes with the university, lock their doors and windows and leave a light on,” Shupp said. “(LUPD will) make a physical check of each registered residence, at least once a day.”

The officers will walk around the outside and make sure there is no suspicious activity. Shupp said break-ins over university vacations have significantly decreased.

“We have gone from quite a few break-ins to zero over the past few breaks,” Shupp said. “Having a visible uniformed officer in the area is a deterrent.”

Shupp said these safety tips also apply to students who live on campus. He said it is important that students take any valuables in their rooms out of plain sight.

He said if students plan to leave their cars on or off campus, nothing valuable should be in plain view and the vehicle should be locked and parked in a designated area.

During breaks the university encourages students to save electricity by unplugging clocks, mini-fridges and other appliances. The university also requires Gryphons to check to make sure all students are gone and all of the doors in the residence halls are locked.

Once a student’s house or dorm is secure, it is important to be aware of safety issues if they are traveling during spring break.

“Just because you are on spring break doesn’t mean there are no rules and nothing bad can happen,” said Jenna Papaz, a coordinator for the Lehigh Health Advancement and Prevention Strategies Office. “Don’t fall victim to the ‘vacation mentality’ and assume no harm can come to you or your friends simply because you are on vacation.”

Papaz said students should make a copy of their passports and heath insurance card in case either document is misplaced. Additionally, it is important to provide family and friends staying in the U.S. with a copy of their itineraries.

Amanda Rogers, ’19, is a peer health adviser and said the most important thing to remember while away is to stick with friends and know where to get help if needed.

Students should continue to practice the same routines they have on campus to keep them healthy and safe. Rogers also advised students to use protection if engaging in sexual activity.

Many students are traveling to countries like Mexico where the drinking age is 18.

“If you choose to drink, please do so responsibility,” Papaz said. “Know your limits, don’t leave your drink unattended and only accept drinks from someone you know.”

Rogers said not only are there different parameters for drinking in other countries, but drugs in other countries are sometimes not the same as they are in the U.S. and can also be laced with other drugs.

“Spring Break should be a fun and relaxing time,” Papaz said. “Be mindful of your actions and practice safe behaviors.”

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