Ready to head out on your first date with someone new? Feeling a mix of excitement, hope and nerves? Maybe this is one of your very first dates ever, or perhaps it’s been a while? Whatever your dating experience, and even if you’re a total pro, are you following these dating safety rules?

I hate to get heavy here, and ruin your buzz, but alarming figures released by The National Crime Agency (NCA) show the number of people reporting rape on their first date with someone they met on a dating website or app has risen by more than 450% in five years. Following these 10 simple rules will protect you from leaving yourself vulnerable on a date, so you can focus on the matter at hand - having fun and getting to know your new potential love interest!

The 10 dos and don'ts of staying safe on a first date

Remembering this first date advice will ensure you will be able to focus on having a fun, but safe dating experience! It’s also important to remember that your date will completely understand your caution and will hopefully be taking similar steps themselves.

1. Do communicate your plans with someone you trust

Always tell someone when and where you’re going, and arrange to call or text them at a set time to confirm that everything is going well.

Pro tip: Stay discreet by taking a quick trip to the bathroom to text or call.

2. Do meet in a public place

Meeting in a public place where you know lots of other people will be around is a great move for a first date.

Pro tip: Being amongst the hustle bustle of a coffee shop or bar will also help you feel at ease if you can hear other people’s conversations as well as your own.

3. Do take your mobile phone

Make sure your mobile phone has plenty of battery so that you can call someone if you need to.

Pro tip: Fiddling with your mobile on a first date is a definite no-no - keep it in your bag or pocket until you’ve finished or you’re in the bathroom.

4. Do pre-plan your route home

Thinking about how you’re going to get home is a wise move, whether it be by taxi, car, bus or train.

Pro tip: Being confident about how you are getting home will avoid those awkward “do you want a lift” situations (see #9)

5. Do leave if you feel uncomfortable

If you feel uncomfortable at any point, go home. This could be something your date is saying, doing or implying.

Pro tip: Make your excuses and don’t feel bad about leaving a date early. Your safety is more important.

6. Don’t leave beverages or personal belongings unattended

Leaving your drink with someone you don’t know very well can lead to it being tampered with. You should also take your handbag, phone or wallet with you if you visit the bar or bathroom.

Pro tip: If you need to go to the toilet, finish your drink first.

7. Do not meet at your house or place of work

Don't show your date where you live or tell them your address. On the flip-side, do not go to your date's home.

Pro tip: Save the home dates until you know someone much better.

8. Don’t drink too much

Drinking a couple of alcoholic drinks will inevitably calm your nerves, but having more than that could leave you vulnerable.

Pro tip: Keep your wits about you whilst drinking by alternating your alcoholic drinks with a soft drink.

9. Don’t let your date drive you home

Do not get into a car with your date and do not let them get into your car.

Pro tip: Even if you feel that you trust the person, politely decline a trip in their car and make your own way home.

10. Don’t go home with your date

Even if it feels like the date's going great and you feel a physical attraction, it’s best to enjoy a few meet ups before you jump into anything heavy.

Pro tip: They might be hard to resist, but it’s best not to risk your safety for a quick fling.