When people talk about college, they usually talk about the fun and exciting times. Unfortunately, what’s also relevant is the threat of crime and danger. Surrounded by peers and away from parents — perhaps for the first time — students can be especially vulnerable to harmful situations. That’s why they need to take the right precautions to stay safe.
As a student, how can you make the most of your college experience while also staying out of harm’s way? Here is a list of important safety tips to keep in mind whenever you’re on campus:
1. Stay alert. In our smartphone society, it’s all too easy to cruise through campus in your own little world, earbuds in and focused on your small screen. The problem is, zoning out keeps you from noticing what’s happening around you. When a threat appears, you may not even know you’re walking straight into danger. Instead of checking out, decide to stay alert when you’re moving through campus — walking to the library at night, coming back to your dorm, etc.
2. Lock your doors. Whether you’re running down the hall to a friend’s dorm room, hanging out at your place for the afternoon or leaving your apartment for a few hours, always lock your doors. Make it a habit to keep your windows and doors locked in order to prevent any unauthorized entry.
3. Travel in groups. When you have to be out on foot at night, try not to be out alone. Take a friend or your roommate on that jog or to run that errand. Likewise, let someone know when you’re planning to be back, so it’s easier for others to know when you might need their help.
4. Carry pepper spray. If you keep a defense mechanism — be it pepper spray, a personal alarm or some self-defense skills — on you at all times, you may never have to use them. If you do, they could save your life. Be prepared for emergency situations where you’ll need a way to protect yourself.
5. Drink responsibly. Alcohol impairs your ability to think clearly and make decisions to protect yourself, so it’s vital that you take alcohol consumption seriously. Not only should you be careful not to drink too much and not to drink and drive, but you should also pay attention to what you’re drinking. That free drink someone offers you at a party or a blind date offers you at a bar could have more than alcohol in it.
6. Follow your instincts. When you get into a situation that makes you uncomfortable, don’t ignore your instincts. Get out of spooky areas, avoid secluded spots and take precautions as your gut tells you to do. Don’t be afraid to tell people you want to leave or don’t want to do something; your safety is too important.
If you are ever the victim of a crime, on campus or off, call the police immediately. But most likely, being alert, sticking to groups, carrying something for protection, drinking responsibly and not being afraid to follow your instincts will go a long way toward protecting yourself at school.
This article was contributed by guest author David Nance, a nationally acclaimed personal safety and home security expert who has been featured on the History Channel, Spike TV, FOX & Friends and more. He is also the CEO/V.P. of Sales & Marketing for SABRE — a company that specializes in wireless home security alarms and self-defense products.