Safety Tips

Here are some tips for staying safe and keeping your drinking at a level you won’t regret. You’ll also avoid those not-so-fun morning after apologies and “I did what?” questions.

  • Pace yourself. It takes 30 to 45 minutes for the alcohol in a drink to really hit you, so be careful. Shots of liquor may leave you feeling fine at first; when the effects really kick in you’ll feel clobbered. Drink slowly to avoid sudden feelings of intoxication. Sip your drink slowly, and watch out for drinks such as flavored martinis or jungle juice that sometimes don’t even taste like they have alcohol in them. Remember, if it comes with an umbrella or tastes really sweet, chances are it will go down easily, so take it slow to make sure it stays down.
  • Alternate alcohol with water/ hydrating drinks. Alcohol causes dehydration. To avoid a nasty hangover and getting sick, drink at least one cup of water or juice for every alcoholic drink you have. You’ll thank yourself later.
  • Know your limits. Everything from your drinking habits, to height, weight, gender and medications can have an impact on how much you can safely drink in one sitting. Check out our BAC calculator to get a good estimate of how the amount of drinks you consume can affect the amount of alcohol in your blood. You’ll get a good idea of when it’s time to call it quits. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so pay attention to how you feel. Don’t be afraid to take a time out when your friends dive in for another round.
  • Ditch the pre-game. You may find it tempting to throw back a couple of drinks before heading out for the night, but if you’re downing shots before you even get to the bar, you may find yourself in the bathroom (as the party’s buzzkill) or worse, in a dangerous situation. Hold off on drinking until you get there. If you have to be drunk to go in the first place, what’s the point?
  • Munch on munchies. Food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol, preventing you from getting too drunk too fast. Have a good dinner before you start drinking, and snack on food throughout the night if it’s available.
  • Don’t try to “keep up.” It’s never smart to go one for one with someone four times your size, or a pal who can down a case of beer and still be thirsty. Just because a friend can hold his or her liquor better than you doesn’t mean you need to compete drink for drink. You can easily keep your alcohol intake at a reasonable level by drinking with someone who has a low tolerance for alcohol. You’ll both be cheaper dates.
  • Use the buddy system. Make sure you’re going out with friends who will keep an eye on you and make sure you’re not drinking too much or putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Listen to your friends if they tell you you’ve had too much, but make it a two-way street: keep an eye on your friends and their alcohol intake as well.

Alcohol Poisoning FAQs

What happens to Your Body When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death in a person who is drunk.

You also should know that a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestines continue to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning:

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be aroused
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness

What should I do if I suspect someone has alcohol poisoning?

  • Know the danger signals.
  • Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
  • Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.
  • If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help. Don’t try to guess someone’s level of drunkenness.

What can happen to someone with alcohol poisoning that goes untreated?

  • Victim chokes on his or her own vomit
  • Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops
  • Heart beats irregularly or stops
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures
  • Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death

What should I do if I think someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning?

Call Public Safety at 610-330-5330, or if you are off campus, call 911. Do not be afraid to seek help for a friend or fellow student whom you think may have alcohol poisoning.

What is a Good Samaritan?

This practice is designed to empower students and organizations to seek emergency assistance for dangerously intoxicated individuals. The protocol reflects the College’s dedication to the health and welfare of all students. Neither those reporting incidents nor those needing help will be subject to formal disciplinary action. College officials will engage in an educational follow-up and provide additional services as necessary for the assisted student.

When to Call?

If you observe a student with any of the following conditions, you should get help immediately:
  • vomiting
  • semiconscious or unconscious
  • incoherent speech
  • slowed or irregular breathing
  • injured
  • bluish or pale skin tones

Whom to Call?

  • Public Safety: Dial 610-330-4444 off campus; or if you are on campus, extension 4444. Call the dispatcher and assert you are enacting the Good Samaritan Practice. Give specific information related to your situation and location. The dispatcher will send an officer to your location to assess the student’s condition and determine whether or not the student needs medical attention. You may be asked for additional information related to his/her condition. Please cooperate with the officer as s/he has the best interest of the student in mind. Timely and accurate information can help the officer better assess the student’s health risks.
  • Residence Hall Staff: You can contact any RA/FHA/HR for assistance, though it’s preferable to contact the RA on Duty. A duty schedule is posted outside each staff member’s door. The staff member will assess the situation and may contact the Office of Public Safety for further assistance. Again, it is helpful to provide information related to how much he/she had to drink.

For the complete policy on all of these alcohol-related issues, please consult the Lafayette College Student Handbook.

Online Services

Beer Booze and Books contains extracts about issues concerning alcohol use and college students. Important information about myths and truth of alcohol can also be found.

BAC calculator: Calculate your blood alcohol content in any situation.

Local Organizations

Alcoholics Anonymous:  610-882-0558

Al-Anon:  610-778-2066

Cocaine Anonymous:  866-777-0983

Narcotics Anonymous:  610-439-1998