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HEALTH & SAFETY: PROTECTING YOURSELF

There are several things to consider that involve dealing with the other people you're likely to encounter on your Vegas trip. Some people will say these issues are mainly of concern for women, but I say crime can happen to anyone regardless of your gender so men should read this stuff as well.

Personal Safety

And You Are...

Never open your door to anyone you aren't expecting, even if they identify themselves as hotel staff. It'll only take a second to call the front desk and verify that the guy standing outside your door really is just there to put a mint on your pillow.

Use the Valet

How many times have you driven to a hotel's self-parking area only to find it so full that you wind up having to park in the furthest corner of the upper-most floor? That can put you and your vehicle at risk, especially if you are planning to head back to your car late at night. Valet parking is free at most major hotels in Las Vegas so why not use it? If the valet at your hotel is full, consider trying one at a neighboring hotel. For instance, if you can't use the valet at The Mirage, go to Treasure Island and then take the tram between the two hotels.

If People are Lurking, Wait

When you are going to your hotel room, be sure to pay attention to other people in the hallway. If you see anyone who looks even remotely threatening - you know, like an 82-year-old woman with a walker - wait a few moments before you open the door to your room. You can pretend to be looking for your key or you can just stand there if you feel like it, but waiting until the hallway is clear will ensure that no one will try to come in the room with you.

Lock and Bolt Your Door

I know this sounds ridiculously simple but a lot of people use only the auto-lock feature on their door and don't bother with the extra security features while inside. Most Las Vegas hotel rooms have additional bolts, locks, or chains that can increase safety and while they are never foolproof, they do put an extra level of security between you and someone who wants to get inside.

Privacy Please

One little trick that I use all the time is to put up the "Do Not Disturb" sign on my door whenever I leave the room. This is the same effect as leaving the lights on when you leave the house, signaling to would be burglars that there is someone inside. If they have a choice between a door with a privacy sign on it and one without they will probably be more likely to choose the one without.

Nightclub Safety

Too many people seem to embrace the "anything goes" ethos of Las Vegas, especially at the city's numerous nightclubs that seem to encourage such behavior. Although you should absolutely have a good time, try to keep a few basic safety tips in mind when you're out partying.

For instance, don't let someone you don't know give you a drink. If they want to buy you one, make sure you get it directly from the bartender. Once you have that drink, don't let it leave your hand even while you're dancing.

It's great to make friends but you should never leave the club with people you don't know, especially if you are by yourself. If you want to continue the conversation or connection, go to a public place like a restaurant or a quieter bar.

All Las Vegas nightclubs have plenty of security guards and it's their job to make sure you stay safe (and don't cause trouble). If you are having a problem with another patron, don't be afraid to tell the nearest bouncer.

Pedestrian Safety

It seems like almost every week I read another news story in which a pedestrian is killed in Las Vegas. The details change but the basic story is almost always the same: someone walking where they should've have been walking or someone driving who shouldn't have been driving or, often, a combination of the two.

If you walk anywhere in Vegas, you're going to want to remember some basic rules to quite literally live by:

It's Not Going Anywhere/There Will Be Another One

Yes, I know, the Mirage Volcano is about to erupt, the Bellagio Fountains are about to blast off, the curtain is about to rise, your table at a fancy restaurant is about to be given away, and that slot machine you were playing earlier today is ready to pay out, you just know it! But here's the deal... all of that stuff isn't going anywhere or there will be another one. The volcano will erupt again, the fountains will dance again, they will seat you after the show starts, you can eat at that restaurant some other night, and that slot machine? It isn't really going to pay.

One of the biggest problems is that people seem to always be in a rush to get wherever it is they are going in Vegas. Relax a bit! You're on vacation! Taking your time will help you with tip #2:

Pay Attention to Your Surroun... Hey, is That an Elvis Impersonator?!

There is a lot to look at when walking around in Las Vegas. Too much, perhaps (see above re: volcano, fountains, etc.). It's easy to get distracted, which is fine if you are walking on the sidewalk where you are relatively safe from passing cars. But I can't tell you how many times I've been driving in Vegas and I see people crossing the street pointing at things and taking pictures instead of paying attention to where they are going and, more importantly, what might be heading in their direction. Gawk all you want until you get to the crosswalk, which brings me to #3:

Stay in the Crosswalks

Seems simple, right? But a lot of people apparently don't have the patience, energy, or intelligence to go to the official crosswalks and have a tendency to invent their own, sometimes ones that dash across the middle of a block on busy Las Vegas Boulevard.

Sure, some of the crosswalks are not as conveniently located as the could be but that extra 50 feet and 30 seconds it'll take you to get to them could save your life. And when you get there, you should take tip #4 to heart.

Obey the Walk/Don't Walk Signals

In a lot of cities, the walk/don't walk signals seem to be merely suggestions instead of laws (I'm looking at you Chicago and New York and New Orleans). In Las Vegas they are routinely ignored as well, but you really shouldn't do that for a couple of reasons.

First, the streets and driveways around The Strip are wider than they look meaning it'll take you longer to get across than you think it will. Add in the blind curves that come out of many of the resorts and you have a high probability of starting across thinking there's no traffic coming and getting caught in it halfway through.

Second, drivers in Vegas aren't terribly forgiving about your intrusion into their driving time. Traffic is terrible and it doesn't help when you block the driveways walking when you're not supposed to. Consider the fact that 99% of the people behind the wheel in the area are either tourists who don't know where they are going, cab drivers, drunk, or some combination of the three.

That brings me to the last tip:

Don't Just Believe They'll Stop

If it comes down to a battle between you and the grill of an SUV, who do you think is going to win? Heck, even though I've had sandwiches bigger than those Smart cars, I still wouldn't want to get hit by one of them.

Whether you take all of the above to heart and just have bad luck or if you ignore all of the other tips above and find yourself in a situation where a car is coming in your direction, do not let this be your thought process: oh they see me, oh they'll stop, I'm sure they'll stop, why aren't they stopping, they aren't stopping, I'm going to die, life flashing before my eyes, ouch."

Stay safe everyone. Vegas needs you.

Next: Online Safety

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