I went to college in the town where I grew up. I had gone to sporting events on campus my whole life. Football Saturdays were the single largest event in my entire state. So going to college at my state university didn't seem scary at all. I knew my way around, I was a ten minute drive from my parents house. That false sense of security probably lead me to take less precautions than I should have to keep myself safe. Hindsight and maturity are wonderful things. So for those going off to enjoy some of the most formative years of your life, here are a few tips I learned on how to stay safe on campus:
1. Buddy Up. I know, you are an adult and you don't need to use the buddy system. It's actually a smart idea though. Especially if you are going to be walking around campus at night. This was not always a rule I followed - but it's one I wish I had. It's an unnecessary risk to take. If it's the weekend and you are going to a party make sure you always have at least one person you know and trust with you. Besides, life is more fun with friends.
2. Lock Your Doors. Most dorms now have fancy keycard access to the main building that can give you a false sense of security. The truth is, you don't know everyone coming in and out of the building or who they are letting in. Make sure to lock your dorm room every time you leave and have a small safe for any valuables.
3. Pay Attention. When you bury your face in your cell phone and you are listening to music on your headphones, you lose track of what is happening around you. Look up and pay attention to your surroundings so in the event of an emergency you can react quickly and appropriately.
4. Use your resources. Colleges and universities have many resources in place to help prevent crimes and assaults and also to help you in the event of one. Many campuses will have emergency buttons and phones along walkways that will connect you directly to campus police. Know where these are located. Be sure to program the number for your campus emergency services into your cell phone and know the protocol for reporting crimes and assaults at your school.
5. Be smart about alcohol. According to a Wayne State University study, over half of the sexual assaults of college students involve alcohol. There are so many ways to quickly get into trouble when you've had too much to drink and you are in an unfamiliar situation. Know your limits. Don't ever accept a drink from someone you don't know. Don't leave a drink unattended, don't go to parties without friends you trust, always plan a safe ride home in advance. I could go on and on but it really comes down to making smart decisions when you choose to drink.
6. Be proactive about your safety. You can take charge of your personal safety. Carry mace on your keychain, or take a self-defense class. Be empowered.
7. Use technology. I just told you to get your head out of your cell phone, and now I'm telling you to get some cool new apps. There are a lot of great safety apps available, so check them out and find one that works for you. Technology can be a great tool and resource. Some that I recommend are: bSafe, Circle of 6, SafeTrek, CampusSafe and Guardly.
Campus Fire Safety:
With large numbers of students sleeping in residence halls and gathering in lectures for classes, it is important to pay attention to fire escape plans in the event you’ll need to evacuate quickly and safely. Make sure you know the fire escape plan for your dorm room and for all of your classrooms.
- According to the National Fire Protection Association most campus structure fires in dorms and greek housing occur in the evening hours and on weekends.
- 86% of reported structure fires involved cooking equipment.
- From 2000-2015, 89 fires have killed 126 people on college campuses, in greek housing or in off-campus housing within 3 miles of campus.
If you choose to live in off-campus housing you need to make sure your home has working smoke alarms. Check the batteries every 6 months.