Safety Tips for College Students

As parents, we worry about a lot of things as our kids head off for college. We worry about their grades and what they are eating. We worry if they are making friends. We worry if the friends they are making are good kids. AND we especially worry if they are safe.  Helping our kids learn these safety tips for college students is key to protecting them and their things from harm and theft. 

 

More College Tips about Safety and Emergencies:

What to Do if your College Student has a Medical Emergency

How to Make a College Dorm Room First Aid Kit

Safety tips for College Students

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There are many different types of safety concerns on and around college campuses. While our first momma thoughts run to violent crime, it is not the most likely safety issue they will face. Our kids also need to understand how to keep their valuable items secure and how to handle emergencies in an off campus apartment.

Before heading to school it is a good idea to do a bit of research about what types of crimes occur on a particular campus and how that school addresses those crimes and other campus emergencies. Fortunately information is now abundant thanks to the internet and a few laws.

How to Get Information About Crime On and Around College Campuses

Since 1990 any college or university participating in federal financial aid programs (think FAFSA) is required to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. The disclosure law is referred to as the “Clery Act.” You should be able to easily access this information on the school website. My son attends the University of Texas at Austin. I pulled up their website and typed “Clery Act” into the search bar. I was directed to their 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. This 67-page report gives the statistics for the last 3 years for every crime and every fire on campus. There is also information about how they notify students in case of emergencies, how they handle tornado warnings, services on and off campus for crime victims, residence hall access information, Title IX procedures, and much more.

For the most current information read the campus security section of the school's website. Following campus security and the local police department on twitter can give you up to the minute information. Many local police departments also have interactive maps with the latest crime reports. Spotcrime is another website where you can search by address for the latest crime reports and subscribe to a daily crime report for the area around any address.

Tips to Avoid Becoming a Crime Victim

Emphasize to your student that they do need to follow a few guidelines. None of these should totally cramp their fun or sense of adventure. Common sense is their best defense.

  1. Stay in well-traveled, well-populated and well-lit areas of campus.
  2. If you find yourself alone at night, call the campus shuttle for a ride.
  3. Lock the door to your dorm room or apartment especially when showering or sleeping.
  4. It is always better to walk with a buddy or in groups.
  5. Avoid wearing headphones or being lost in your phone while walking.
  6. Use the main entrance to your dorm or apartment building. These doors should be accessible only by those with the proper key or card.
  7. Do not let people into your building that you do not know.
  8. Do not prop open doors for convenience.
  9. Do not drink anything you did not see prepared.
  10. Never leave your drink unattended.
  11. Do not stay at a party without a buddy.
  12. While this is not a popular tip, consider not drinking alcohol until you are 21. I promise it will be there for you when you turn 21 and 22 and 32…..
  13. Share your location on your phone with trusted friends, so they can always find you. (This can also be a great help if you lose your phone.)
  14. Set the privacy settings on your social media and be careful what you share.
  15. Only meet up with someone you don't know very well or met online in a public place and bring a buddy, if possible.

 

Personal Safety Apps

Consider downloading a personal safety app. With varying features like SOS buttons, fake phone calls for uncomfortable situations, and GPS locators these apps can assist you when being alone is unavoidable. These 2 apps are free and have many features for helping you stay in touch with a network of friends.

bSafe: Bsafe was created by a father and daughter team after the daughter was raped when she was 16. Features include an SOS button activated by voice or touch, live streaming, a voice and video recorder, the ability to set up fake calls, and a siren.

Circle of 6: Circle of 6 allows users to set up a network of 6 friends that with 2 taps on your phone will send alerts and your GPS location to your network.

How to Protect Your Stuff

Burglary is the most common crime on college campuses. Bicycles and laptops are the two items most often taken. Invest in a sturdy bike lock and a room safe to prevent the opportunity theft of laptops. Other items to keep in the safe are passports and other personal documents, medicines with any street value such as ritalin and sudafed, and jewelry.

Safety Tips in an Off Campus Apartment

Living off campus is a fun new world – the first time living without any adult supervision. This new privilege brings with it some additional concerns to think through.

  1. Make sure the smoke alarms are working in the unit.
  2. A carbon monoxide detector is never a bad idea. We bought a plug-in monitor for our son's apartment.
  3. Does your child know not to try to put out a grease fire with water? A small fire extinguisher in the kitchen can be a lifesaver.
  4. Hosting parties comes with liability. Don't serve alcohol to people who are underage in your unit. If they hurt themselves or someone else, you could be liable.
  5. Use the alarm in the unit or purchase a Simplisafe or other portable alarm system.
  6. Just like at home, they need to know where they would go in case of a tornado, hurricane, or whatever natural disasters are common in the area.
  7. Buy renter's insurance for your belongings. The insurance carried by the landlord, whether a large corporation or an individual owner, only covers the structure, not the belongings of a renter.

 

Sending a child off to college is scary. There are a lot of safety concerns, but with a little research, preparation, and common sense, staying safe will not be difficult. I would love to know any college students safety tips that have helped you or your college student. Comment below to help other readers and their kids stay safe.

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