Tips to keep IV Halloween safe and scar-free

Dylan Jamison

Tens of thousands of scantily clad women and drunken students staggering through the streets of Isla Vista can only mean one thing: Halloween 2010.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time when costumed collegians flock from all across the western United States to attend the Mecca of all college parties.

With over 40,000 in attendance two years ago, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, how can you stay safe during all the festivities? City College Health Educator Rosina Wright-Castro has some helpful words of advice to keep celebrations safe and danger-free.

“People’s expectations are the main problem,” Wright-Castro said. “They go into it with the mentality that anything goes.”

She said students who are looking to visit Isla Vista for the holiday are often given a misguided view from others. People often arrive thinking the party “is a rager” and they need to be a part of that scene.

In 2008 over 240 arrests were made with 550 citations being handed out, according to the County Sheriff’s Department. Alcohol related penalties range from hundreds of dollars for an open container up to $10,000 for drinking and driving.

With the increased number of partiers packing the small college-town, alcohol can be found almost everywhere and the overconsumption of it is a real cause for concern.

“When you first start drinking, you feel euphoric,” said Wright-Castro. “But at .05% BAC it becomes a depressant.” BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, is a measure of the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood. For context, the average man reaches a .05% BAC after about two drinks. The three main factors in calculating BAC are the number of drinks in a certain amount of time, height, and weight.

However, Halloween is a time when students often “have bad judgment” and choose to drink down much more than the body can handle. High risk drinking is defined as five or more drinks in two hours for males, and 4 drinks or more for females.

“Alcohol poisoning is a huge issue and can range from getting sick to death,” said Wright-Castro. “The liver can only process one drink per hour.”

Myths about drinking are often false. Drinking coffee, taking a shower or having caffeine are all ineffective ways of trying to become sober. “Nothing is going to sober you up but time,” Wright-Castro said.

When people have had more than enough, a few telltale signs of alcohol poisoning include: cold, clammy or bluish skin, irregular breathing, constant vomiting, and finally passing out.

Wright-Castro gave some tips for staying safe:

• Eat a full meal before you drink.

• Go into the event knowing your expectations, and have a plan.

• Stay with people that you trust won’t leave your side as the night progresses.

• If you don’t know what’s in a cup, don’t drink it.

Wright-Castro said she wouldn’t necessarily avoid the party scene; she just wants students to be aware of the problems that can arise. Students should go into it being sure of their expectations and being as responsible as they can.

“When in doubt, call 911,” Wright-Castro said. Most people feel they will get in trouble with the law if they attempt to receive assistance, but the most important thing is to just stay safe.

Wright-Castro’s most important tip was to “be mindful” of what the laws are. Hundreds of police officers are brought into Isla Vista just for Halloween with the intent to crack down on any and all offenders. The sole purpose of these officers is to arrest anyone they see who might be breaking a law.

Staying out of jail is also a big issue around Halloween and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol will once again have their hands full.

Lt. Ray Vuillemainroy, the highest-ranking member of the foot patrol, will play a key role in keeping the streets trouble-free. Vuillemainroy spent the past 15 years as a part of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department and recently took over the head position for the patrol.

“Alcohol related offenses are always a big issue,” Vuillemainroy said. He said over 100 officers will be brought in from around the county for the weekend event.

“Any kind of assault behavior will be taken care of immediately,” Vuillemainroy said. He added that it was “tough to estimate” the number of students who will be drawn in this year, but it could range anywhere from 15,000 to 40,000. Underage drinking and open containers are the two key offenses officers will look out for.