National Night Out educates on safety, promotes community

Baylor Fire Safety Specialist Steve Eskew and Director of Creative Services Clayton Thompson help Alex Thomson put out a fire. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

The Baylor University Police Department hosted its second annual National Night Out event at Fountain Mall on Tuesday to encourage partnerships between the police and the community and to educate on safety through fun activities.

At the event students, faculty and staff were given the opportunity to experience the dangerous effects of driving while intoxicated through two activities.

The first activity was a video simulation called “Watch Ur BAC” — or blood alcohol concentration. The alcohol awareness program looked similar to an arcade racing game, which allows participants to take control of a steering wheel, gas pedal and brake while the monitor displays their driving. However, participants wore “beer goggles” that helped mimic how difficult it would be to maintain control of the vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. Many participants had difficulty staying inside their lane — often crashing into the sides of buildings and other cars.

San Antonio senior Julie Clark said she has never driven while intoxicated, but as soon as she put on the goggles she was able to see how scary it is to drive under the influence.

“I normally would never try to drive like that. It was very intense,” Clark said. “You have to focus a lot harder than you normally would have to.”

Another activity that demonstrated the effects of driving under the influence was a golf cart course which participants would try to navigate wearing the beer goggles. Many had trouble getting through the course without running over the traffic cones.

After completing the golf cart course, participants, still wearing the goggles, were asked to walk forward and backward in a straight line and balance on one foot — tasks that did not come easily.

Amarillo first-year student Heath Holland struggled to stay in a straight line and instead walked diagonally until a police officer helped him get back on the straight path.

“The goggles are crazy,” Holland said. “But I think it’s really important to see this and see how dangerous and impaired you can get actually being drunk because there’s no way you’ll actually be able to stay in control.”

The topic of car safety went beyond the two activities. At one of the informational booths, there was a model that portrayed what would happen during a crash if a person was wearing a seatbelt versus if they were not. When the seatbelt was not in use, the “person” in the model would be launched from their seat upon impact.

In addition to car safety, BUPD also offered some tips on fire safety by teaching students how to use a fire extinguisher. In the green space on Fountain Mall, students had the opportunity to put out a fire pit using a fire extinguisher.

“It’s interesting because most college students have never used a fire extinguisher before and they’re finding that enjoyable,” Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil said.

Apart from the safety focused activities, National Night Out also had a corn hole tournament, bounce house, free food and a lot of door prizes.

Louisburg, Kan., senior Amelia Baumgardner said that even though she sees the police officers around campus all the time, she had never gone up to talk to them, but this event made that much easier by allowing students to interact with officers on a more casual basis.

Wigtil said that being able to interact is a great experience for not only the officers but for students, faculty and staff as well.

“It’s always good when there’s a context for the community to meet their officers and get to know them as individuals,” Wigtil said.

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