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A night out on the town can be fun. When alcohol is involved though, the risks of harm can increase. Help young people make informed decisions about where to go, and teach them to pay attention to their surroundings at clubs or bars to minimize the risks of alcohol-related harms to themselves and others.
It’s common for people in their early twenties to want to go out and drink with friends. While the safest option is to abstain from drinking, there are ways to have a safe night out when alcohol is involved.
Where not to go
Opt for clubs or bars that offer the least amount of risks. Places where incidents of aggression, assault and drunk driving have happened often put little effort into ambience and ignore standard serving and safety practices. Avoid bars and clubs that:
- are located near clusters of other alcohol-serving establishments and liquor outlets
- stay open for extended hours (in BC, most bars and clubs close between 1-2 am, though some stay open until 4 am)
- allow over-crowding and go over their capacity limit
- have happy hours and two-for-one drink specials
- serve customers who are clearly intoxicated
- provide bad entertainment
- have aggressive, poorly-trained security and service staff
- lack telephones and safe-ride transportation options
- have blocked exits and pathways
- have poor interior and exterior lighting
- feature uncomfortable furniture and noise levels
- have dark, dirty washroom areas
What to Look for in a Bar or Club
1. Trained servers and staff:
- Servers who cut people off when they’ve had too much to drink reduce the chances of drunken fights or someone driving home intoxicated.
- Staff trained to diffuse conflict and manage aggressive behaviour can stop a frustrating situation from becoming a full-on fight.
- Trained door staff know how to diffuse conflict before it starts and are skilled at behaviour management.
- Door staff who regularly check identification are more likely to work for bars or clubs that value both the law and customers.
- Bars and clubs with multiple floors (as opposed to a single floor) make it easier for customers to see and be seen by staff.
- Clear pathways and exits make it easier for people to move around without bumping into others and potentially starting a fight.
- Comfortable lighting, seating, sound and ventilation keep customers calmer and less likely to become frustrated.
- Sufficient, well-lit washrooms reduce the risk of assault and other crimes.
- Tempered glassware is safer and less likely to be broken and used as weapons in a bar fight.
- Places that offer free soft drinks or water are linked to fewer drunk driving charges and fewer cases of public intoxication.
- Places that have food available tend to have less aggressive customers and fewer incidents of violent behaviour.
- Places that feature varied, high-quality entertainment have fewer incidents of boredom, frustration and intoxication.
4. Outdoor environment
- Places with security cameras tend to have less misconduct and violence outside the bar or club.
- Fully-lit outdoor areas deter people from committing crimes or loitering. This also helps people see more of their surroundings so they feel safer when they’re heading home.
- Bars or clubs with clean, clear sidewalks and queuing areas reduce the risk of customers falling or injuring themselves due to crowded line-ups and mobility problems.
5. Transportation options
- Safe-ride services offered in bars and clubs decrease alcohol-related vehicle accidents.
- Establishments that have accessible telephones and taxi services, or are close to major bus routes, encourage crowds to disperse quicker.
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