Campus life can be one of the best experiences in a young person’s life. Making new friends, learning new things, camaraderie, exploration and all the excitement that comes from learning independence. As parents we want our children to be as safe and secure as possible during this wonderful time of life.
Below are a few safety tips to discuss with your student to help ensure all goes well.
1) Take the time to explore. Get to know total campus layout and surrounding areas. Learn the most direct, well lit, open routes (few bushes & trees) to different points on campus. Most campuses have emergency call buttons and/or phones at key locations throughout campus. Take note of where they are located and become familiar with their operation.
2) Use your technology wisely. Check your campus website for safety tips, procedures, and emergency information. Many have free apps like Campus Safe or Safe Trek that can be activated while walking alone and deactivate once you have arrived safely to your destination. This is a great protection when you find yourself in the situation of having to walk alone at night. When using your headphones, make sure you are still aware of your surroundings, both visually and hearing. The key to safety is recognizing a potentially dangerous situation before it happens and taking action to avoid it.
3) Think before you post on social media. It is fun to share moments, pictures and thoughts as we experience college life. However, your posts may be viewed by other people as well. Review the settings on your social media profiles and definitely avoid geotagging your photos. Disable location services and make your accounts private so you can be sure of who is viewing what.
4) Double check that you have emergency numbers programmed into your phone. If you are away at school, ensure you not only have your parent’s numbers listed but also a local reliable family member or friend. It is the first item hospitals and police check if you’re admitted alone because they are able to bypass your passcode in order to access your contacts.
5) Carry some cash. With debit/credit cards the main mode of payment these days, sometimes it is hard to remember to have some emergency cash on you at all times. Perhaps your credit card won’t work, your debit card gets lost, or you lose your backpack. You never want to be stuck in a bad situation because you don’t have the necessary funds to get out of it as quickly as possible.
6) Lock your doors. It is easy to become comfortable and relaxed in the college environment especially when living in a Dorm, Fraternity/Sorority house, or college apartment complex. However, it is sensible to always lock your doors, especially when you’re alone or sleeping. Sometimes this is tough with roommates coming and going but most college crimes happen where access points are unlocked. Take time to hide your technology and valuables when leaving and/or close window curtains and blinds. Consider purchasing a small safe for your ID documents and for storing your laptop, iPad, and other valuables when you’re away. Keep your safe hidden in an unusual place. Bedroom closets and under the bed are the first place thieves look for valuables. If you live on the first floor of a building, make sure your windows lock. If they don’t, you can purchase a jam stick or sliding window lock at the local home improvement store or Internet.
7) Party Safely. Yes, you probably will be going to a party or celebration .. or two! Have fun but be smart. Never go to a party at an unknown location without a friend or two. Never stay at a party where you have “just met someone who seems nice” after your friends have gone home. And finally, never become so inebriated you lose control. Sometimes it is easy to get carried away with the festivities and common sense goes out the window. Make an agreement with your friends to watch out for and take care of each other as a number one priority! Party’s can turn into dangerous situations if you do not keep aware of your surroundings and the coming and going of the people attending.
8) Make sure you have pepper spray or mace easily assessable to you. Have one located out of sight in your apartment as well as having one easily assessable to you while you are out and about. Fastening these items to a key ring, lanyard, and backpack will ensure they are there when you may need them.
9) Learn how to protect yourself physically. You’ll feel safer and more confident. You don’t need to invest a lot of money or time in getting a black belt to master self-defense; all you need are a few classes and tips from a professional instructor. Classes are often available at colleges and gyms. To make it fun, ask your roommates or a few friends to take the class with you. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much better you feel when you are out and about.
College is an exciting time and a rewarding experience. As busy as you’ll be with learning, meeting new friends and operating with a new level of independence, remembering these nine simple safety tips will help ensure a safe productive school year.