More than 20 million students in the U.S. will head to college this fall. Unfortunately, with so many students, dorm rooms, and valuables, even America’s safest college towns experience some forms of crime, including burglaries, thefts, or assaults.
While safety is a priority for most colleges, there are several additional ways you can improve your own safety and keep your belongings secure. Before heading off to college, review these nine safety tips.
1. Familiarize yourself with your school’s Campus Safety office.
Every school has a Campus Safety or security office, and part of your tuition funds it. Make the most of this resource by utilizing its services. Your college’s website likely provides information like office hours and phone number, but you can also visit in person when you arrive on campus.
2. Take extra precaution at night.
On average, sexual assaults and other crimes are more likely to occur at night. And while you shouldn’t scare yourself into assuming danger is around every corner, you also shouldn’t take unnecessary risks, such as walking alone at night. Instead, use the buddy system or call campus security for a ride.
3. Always lock up.
Just as you wouldn’t leave your house without locking the front door, don’t leave your dorm or apartment without locking up — even if you’re planning on only being gone a few minutes. If you live on the first floor, close your windows and either shut the blinds or hide your valuables in drawers any time you leave.
4. Maintain privacy on social media.
Social media is a great platform for connecting with friends and family worldwide or sharing updates about your life. However, with everything you post, stay aware of who else could be viewing your profile. Avoid geotagging your photos, as it reveals your location to strangers, and don’t publicly announce when you’re home alone or are leaving your home unattended.
5. Be careful when getting into your car.
Most people don’t think to look in their backseat or under the car before getting behind the wheel. A predator could potentially be hiding in one of those locations, however, especially if you tend to leave your car unlocked or keep your windows rolled down. When walking to your car, approach at an angle that allows you to see around the vehicle, and check the back seat before opening the door.
6. Know where you’re going.
Whenever you set out to town or class, make sure you know where you’re heading and how to get there. Walk with confidence and avoid looking confused, even when you’re trying to navigate a new location. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, don’t use headphones or let your phone distract you, and focus on finding your destination.
7. Understand your campus’s and city’s crime.
The more you know about the crime in your local area, the better you can prevent similar incidents from happening to you. Most colleges and universities provide on-campus crime statistics, and several websites offer a thorough overview of a city’s crime rates, including the type of offense and specific locations where the crime occurred.
8. Learn how to defend yourself.
There’s nothing more empowering than knowing how to protect yourself physically. You’ll feel safer and more confident, especially if you live or travel alone. You don’t need a black belt in karate to master self-defense; all you need are a few classes and tips from a professional instructor. There are several types and styles of classes from which to choose, depending on your interests.
9. Have safety and security supplies readily accessible.
Keeping a few safety supplies on hand can help you feel more protected. While stun guns aren’t legal in all states, less drastic self-defense products like pepper spray and mace are easier to obtain and can be just as useful. Many colleges also provide new students with whistles, which you can use to alert those nearby when you require assistance or are in danger.
Take your safety and security tools to another level and download the Free GWEN Alert safety app on every family member’s iPhone or Android. Choose your GWEN 5 ―five personal contacts instantly notified when the app is engaged with the touch of a button.
The GWEN Alert is a powerful app that can be used for all kinds of emergencies, natural disasters and personal safety issues. In addition to sending a pre-set emergency text message to the pre-programmed GWEN 5, the app provides GPS coordinates, continually tracks the phones location, and captures audio and video of the surroundings. These recordings are pushed to the cloud continuously to protect the data in case the phone is taken away or destroyed. Plus, it offers the ability to speed dial 911, should the situation escalate to a rescue response.