A first meeting with any new love interest can be exciting - and most first meetings are perfectly safe, but it's always smart to take basic precautions. Trust your instincts. And be sure to keep the following guidelines in mind:

DO meet in public.
On first meetings, ALWAYS arrange to rendezvous in a populated, public place. Never meet in a private home (or in a hotel room) or in a remote location.

DO tell a friend.
Tell at least one friend or family member who you are meeting, where you are going and when you expect to return. Let your date know your meeting is not a secret.

Tip: Contact your friend before and after the date or ask your friend to contact you at a predetermined time.

DO stay sober.
Refrain from drinking excessively, as it could impair your ability to make good decisions and may put you at risk.

Tip: Stick to nonalcoholic drinks when meeting someone for the first time.

DON'T leave home without your phone.
If you have a mobile phone, take it with you on dates.

DON'T ask the other person to pick you up.
Get yourself to and from the date, even if you have to have a friend to drive you or take a taxi.

DON'T leave personal belongings or drinks unattended.
Don't risk having your personal information stolen. The same goes for your drink - don't risk having it tampered with.

Tip: If you must leave your drink unattended to go to the toilet, order another drink when you return.

DON'T succumb to the temptation to take first dates to your home (or go to his or her home).
Stay in a public place, even if you are pressured. If you feel pressured, end the meeting and leave at once.

Tip: If you are followed to where you parked your car, stop and hail a taxi or go into another public place to use the telephone to phone a friend. Come back later with your friend to get your car.

DO set up a next date, if you are ready and feel comfortable.
And DO remember to follow all of these tips on subsequent meetings, until you feel confident with your new friend. If the other person is sincerely interested in you, he or she will want you to feel safe.