As spring break nears, University Police want students to be aware of a travel alert for Mexico and to take the proper precautions so they have a safe, enjoyable hiatus from studying wherever they go.

Spring break for West Virginia University students is March 14-22.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert urging U.S. citizens to use caution if planning a trip to Mexico because of increased drug-related violence south of the border. To learn more about the alert, go to .

Lt. Randy Friend of University Police offers some helpful tips to ensure that spring break is a time students remember and not an experience they wish to forget.

Before traveling:

  • Do some online research about your intended destination and find out about any risks or potentially dangerous areas to avoid.
  • Make sure your parents have the cell phone numbers and full names of your traveling companions in case you lose your phone or some other problem arises that would make it difficult to contact you.
  • Let your parents know your planned travel route, any planned stops, diversions, etc., and the physical address and the phone number of your intended destination.
  • Be sure to lock your residence hall room, apartment or house and make sure your valuables are completely secure. Unplug unnecessary appliances and equipment that might increase risk of a fire.
  • If traveling by vehicle, have your vehicle inspected at a reputable garage to make sure it is in good condition. Ask the mechanic to check belts, tires, brakes or any safety equipment that might cause a potential problem while traveling. While traveling, always wear your seatbelt, obey the speed limits and be prepared to adjust your speed if weather conditions require it. Keep your vehicle headlights on even in daylight. Remember winter road conditions can be treacherous and road surfaces can change from rain to ice in a matter of minutes. Always allow for enough space between your vehicle and the vehicles around you and greatly extend this safety cushion when roads become wet or snow-covered. Dont drink and drive. Get sufficient rest before traveling and always drive safely and defensively.

While on spring break:

  • Be sure to keep your room locked and your property secure at all times.
  • Avoid wearing flashy jewelry, flashing cash or doing anything that may increase your risk of being a victim of theft or robbery, and if you are a victim of a robbery attempt, comply with the perpetrator.
  • Always go out with at least one of your traveling companions and try to stay with larger groups whenever possible. Statistics indicate that your chance of being a victim of crime is reduced by up to 65 percent if you travel in groups of three or more.
  • Avoid illegal drugs and limit your alcohol intake. Most injuries, physical assaults, sexual assaults, and criminal citations and arrests that occur on spring break involve alcohol.
  • Look out for one another, especially if someone in your group becomes intoxicated. Dont let any member of your party wander off alone and dont let them wander off with others outside of your group.
  • Dont ever put a drink down where something could be placed in it and dont accept drinks from others. If at anytime you suspect that something may have been slipped into your drink, alert your friends immediately and then call the local police.
  • Dont get involved in any type of activity that might jeopardize your safety or increase your risk of becoming a victim. Avoid acts that might lead to your being criminally cited or arrested. Incidents of students falling from balconies, being struck by vehicles and other accidents happen too frequently during spring break.