Safety Tips for College Students

Most colleges and universities have started their fall sessions by now, and students are hopefully settling into their new schedules and surroundings. The start of a new college year can mean a big change for anyone transitioning from a summer routine or a different city, and of course these changes can be especially overwhelming for first-year or transfer students. Whether or not you live on campus, your college environment will be a home-away-from-home for you during the next several months, and it’s just as important to think about safety on campus as it is anywhere else. ProtectUS Security, your home security systems Dallas company, presents the following tips to help you stay safe and have a great college experience!

Get to know the area, on campus and off – Don’t just think about finding out where the best late-night pizza spot is! Whether you’re in a brand new city or you’re returning to town, take a little time to locate important places on your campus such as the health center, safety and security office, administration offices, and the student union. Also locate important landmarks around the campus, such as hospitals, urgent care centers, police and fire stations, and pharmacies. You definitely don’t want to be searching for these important buildings for the first time during a crisis! Also get to know your college’s safety policies, such as safety escorts, night shuttles, emergency stations or “blue lights,” and campus patrols. Program important numbers, such as safety escort services, taxi services, and the campus health center into your phone.

Walk in groups when possible, and stay alert when you walk alone – Try to always walk in a group after dark to reduce the likelihood of being mugged or otherwise attacked. When you walk alone, don’t get distracted by reading material, your phone, or other electronic devices. Staying aware of your surroundings will help you get to your destination faster, will keep you from inadvertently stepping in front of a car, and will make you more likely to notice if someone is following you or otherwise acting suspiciously. Consider carrying pepper spray and/or a loud whistle in case of an attack, and see if your school offers self-defense classes (sometimes this can count as a physical education requirement!). Incidents can happen on even the safest of campuses, so stay vigilant!

Stay safe in your residence – Whether you live in a dorm, an apartment, or a rental home, keep a first aid kit on hand and become familiar with emergency exit routes in the building. If you live off campus, make sure there are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and test them to make sure they work. Exchange emergency contact information with your roommate(s), and let them know about any health concerns you have that might affect them, and vice versa. If you live in a residence hall, be sure to let your resident assistant (RA) or hall director know about any serious health concerns as well. Lock your door when you’re not in your room, even if you’re just popping down the hall for something, and store your valuables in a safe, secure location. Be sure to keep your car locked and free of valuables too! If you live in a dorm or an apartment don’t let strangers into the building or hold the door for someone you don’t know, even if they don’t seem suspicious.

Practice safe partying habits – If you are attending a party go with someone you know well, so that you can keep an eye each other and go home together. Not only is it bad manners to abandon a friend at a party (even if there’s a cute guy or girl involved), it can be dangerous, as one in five college women will experience sexual assault in the U.S., and men are not immune to assault either. If you do have to separate from your friend(s) for some reason, communicate clearly about where you’re going and who you’re going with. Always watch your drink being prepared, and if it is left unattended for any reason get a new drink rather than finishing the old one. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable speak up as soon as possible, either to the host of the party, campus security, or your RA. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason at a party or other social event it’s okay to ask your friend(s) to leave with you. Always get yourself out of a situation that concerns you.

Follow the 0-1-3 Policy for safe drinking – The BACCHUS Network, a university and community-based organization for health and safety initiatives, recommends the 0-1-3 Policy when it comes to drinking alcohol: 0 drinks for anyone who is under twenty-one, driving, taking medication, or chemically dependent; 1 drink per hour for men or 1 drink per hour and a half for women (1 drink = 12 oz. of beer, 4 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of a liquor shot); and no more than 3 drinks per day, and no more than 3 drinking sessions per week. If you would prefer to  stay sober and want to avoid peer pressure you can always say you’re the designated driver, you’re taking medication, or you’re just not feeling well.

We salute all college students and wish you a fun, safe, and productive year!