It’s Friday night and you just got paid, so you’re ready to use some of your newly-acquired cash to hit the clubs downtown. But before you strut your stuff with all the other party people, stop and think for a second. When the sun goes down, some of the sketchier elements of society reveal themselves, so it’s best to protect yourself when you go out to have fun.

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Here are four crucial safety tips to keep in mind every time you go clubbing.

1) Travel In Packs
Don’t be a stranger in a room full of partiers. Always keep one or more close friends by your side to keep an eye out for each other, and watch for trouble. Try to stay in pairs, always within eyeshot of one another. This “buddy system” ensures that you will always have someone who knows where you are.

2) Drink More Water
“Drink more water” is solid advice for life in general, but it goes double for when you’re partying. All that dancing, drinking, and excitement dehydrates you, so you need lots of fluid to keep your body temperature normal and your energy levels up. How much water you drink might mean the difference between dancing the night away and passing out in a city street from exhaustion.

As a rule of thumb, down one glass of water after every alcoholic beverage you drink. Just ask the bartender — they want to ensure everyone is safe so they’re usually happy to give away water for free.

3) Concoct A Plan To Get Home Before You Leave
Party people put tons of thought into planning their night on the town, but they don’t spend a second to consider how exactly they’re going to get home safely. Sure, maybe you’ll find a ride when you decide to call it a night, but counting on your decision-making capabilities after you’ve had a few vodka tonics can be a risky proposition.

Assign one of the people in your group the title of designated driver. It falls on their shoulders to pick everyone up, keep everyone safe through the festivities, and bring them back home in one piece. Playing chauffeur for a bunch of drunks may not the most fun job in the world, but it gives all party-goers assurance they will be able to recover from their hangovers in the security of their home the next day. (Just remember to return the favor the next time your group of friends wants to go out!)

If everyone in your group is going to drink, at least plan a taxi pick up at a pre-determined time and place. And make sure your taxi service’s phone number is programmed into your phone before you even go out. Sometimes plans change after shots, and the ability to summon a cab to take you home at the press of a button can be a life saver.

4) Take Only What You Need
There’s nothing partying thieves love more than an unattended purse completely stuffed full of valuable goodies. Reduce the risk of loss by only carrying things you genuinely need. Your ID, your phone, your keys, one credit card and a small amount of cash should be enough for the night. Taking a bevvy of belongings with you is just asking to have your precious personal possessions stolen.

Have Fun!
Being safe about your clubbing doesn’t mean you can’t let loose. Just take some reasonable precautions, always trust your gut, and don’t be afraid to remove yourself from any situation you feel uncomfortable with. By partying smart, you can own the night and still be safe and sound the next day.

Logan Strain is a San Diego blogger, and he is intimately familiar with the nightlife of America’s Finest City.

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