Following the COVID-19 pandemic when we were all quarantined in our own homes, it's felt great to be able to enjoy ourselves at crowded bars and restaurants. These establishments were among those that were hit the hardest during the lockdown, pushed to limit their services to takeout, with some even forced to close their doors for good. But now that we're taking advantage of these businesses it's again, it's important to remember that our personal safety isn't just about avoiding COVID. Read on to find out what police say you must do before heading to the bathroom the next time you're out at a bar.
The police have made a number warnings this year in terms of public safety.
Warnings from authority figures can be concerning, but they are made with your safety in mind. So far this year, U.S. police forces have issued different warnings about issues that may put the general public at risk. In January, officials warned that QR codes, an acronym for "quick response" codes, were being put on parking meters in order to trick drivers into sharing sensitive information.
More recently, police asked that drivers take preventive measures before filling up their gas tanks. A rise in gas prices also led to an increase in gas theft, leading officials to recommend swapping out current gas caps for those with a lock. Now, there's a new warning that's more about protecting yourself than your car.
There has been an increase in drink spiking at bars.
Whether you're ordering a cocktail or a mocktail, having a drink with friends at a bar is one of life's simple pleasures. But the next time you head to your local haunt, police are asking that you take extra precautions due to an increase in drink spiking activity.
On May 30, the Boston Police Department (BPD) issued a press release after numerous social media users reported that their drinks were spiked at bars in the Boston area. In light of this, police said it is crucial that you make sure your drink is covered before heading to the bathroom. The BPD recommended using different "creative inventions" that keep your drink covered, which are available for purchase on sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy.
You also won't want to leave your drink unattended in general. If you've come with a friend, family member, or significant other, make sure they have eyes on your drink to ensure it isn't tampered with. And while it may not be the most sanitary option, you can take your drink with you to the bathroom, police noted.
Attackers are able to spike unattended drinks.
Boston police further advise making sure that you are served by the bartender. Letting someone else buy you a drink may sound appealing when you are in the moment, but it can actually be dangerous to allow someone you don't know to order and deliver drinks to you. In these instances, criminals will spike drinks with drugs like Rohypnol or "roofies"—a depressant that can produce "sedative-hypnotic" effects, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Rohypnol has never been approved for medical use in the U.S. and is commonly referred to as a "date rape" drug.
In addition to Rohypnol, GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) and Ketamine are used to spike drinks. These substances are colorless, tasteless, and odorless. The brand-name Rohypnol tablets now have a core that will turn drinks blue when dissolved, but generic forms may not have this added feature‚ meaning the drug could still end up in your drink without your knowledge.
"These drugs and substances can cause disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis or unconsciousness along with a host of other symptoms, leaving the potential victim vulnerable to the intentions of the suspect," the BPD wrote. According to the DEA, the effects of these drugs are intensified when mixed with alcohol.
Police ask that you report any instance of drink spiking.
You may not know that your drink has been spiked, but if you start to feel dizzy, nauseated, or lightheaded, these could indicate that you need to seek help, the BPD said. You can also test your drink with test strips and different nail polishes that "light up a certain color if they detect drugs," according to police.
In the event you or someone you know falls victim to drink spiking, the BPD urges you to report incidents by calling 911 or reporting it at a police station.
"Please be aware of any uncharacteristic behavior from your acquaintances and be wary of strangers attempting to lure individuals away from their friends," officials stated, adding that you can make use of a buddy system to avoid getting separated while out in social settings.
"Also, should you observe any individual who appears to be in distress, wandering alone late at night or dressed unsuitably for the weather, be sure to contact the police immediately," the police added.
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