12 top tips for staying safe on campus

Photo by UNC Asheville

Most parents don’t spend much time worrying about the safety of their children on what they believe are, for the most part, idyllic college campuses. And until something happens to someone they know, most students assume nothing can go wrong in their “college bubble.”

Students often get caught up in a false sense of security. But, unfortunately, bad things do happen. Students need to be extra cautious during these last few weeks before they come home for the holiday break. It’s darker earlier, and everyone seems more distracted.

Here are some suggestions of ways for students to stay safe on a college campus:

  • Lock ’em up. It’s always important to lock up your valuables, but it gets more challenging at this time of the year as students are making holiday purchases and at the same time becoming less vigilant because they’re more comfortable in their school environment.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Do not leave your stuff unattended. Get a locking device for your computer. If you’re studying in the library ask a fellow student you trust to watch your laptop while you head to the restroom and do the same for him or her.
  • Be prepared for an emergency, and update your phone with safety contacts. Enter your “In Case of Emergency” numbers in your cell phone. ICE is commonly known by security forces, police departments and paramedics. If something happens, it will speed up contact with your loved ones. Also, know the phone numbers you will need to call to cancel your credit/debit cards if your wallet is stolen.
  • Don’t carry a lot of cash around. Use debit and credit cards; there’s no need to make yourself a target.
  • Don’t walk alone after dark. Use the campus escort service. If you must walk alone, stay alert, don’t stop at an ATM. Be sure to walk on well-lit paths and know where emergency phones are located. Know the number for campus security; plug it into your cell phone. Keep the cell phone handy so you can make a call, if necessary.
  • Lock your dorm room door at all times. People in first-floor dorm rooms should also lock their windows.
  • Be smart about personal safety. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Text when you arrive safely at your destination.
  • Know exactly where you’re headed. It sounds obvious, but don’t wander off trying to find a short-cut. Map your route on your GPS before heading out. Avoid looking confused, and possibly a better target, by being prepared and looking confident.
  • Avoid wearing headphones. I know everyone does, and “what will you do if you can’t listen to music or talk to your friends and family?” Be safer and instead listen to the ambient noise or the quiet sounds of your college town. Wearing headphones reduces your awareness of your surroundings.
  • Don’t be naïve, get safety-educated. Know where Campus Security is located and how to contact them. Don’t be afraid to use the Blue Light Security system if you’re feeling endangered; that’s exactly why it is there. Average response time by campus security is typically just a few minutes.
  • Plan ahead when planning to party. Students need to think about where they’re going, who they’re going with and absolutely make sure that everyone gets home safely. “The highest sexual assault risk situation for college women is after they become voluntarily intoxicated,” according to a study cited by the One in Four organization.
  • Avoid drinking too much. Do not accept a drink from anyone other than a bartender. Date rape drugs are easily slipped into drinks. Never go home with a stranger. Bring enough money to pay for an Uber or taxi back to your dorm. Feelings of invincibility leads young people to riskier behavior than their common sense would dictate. Approximately 1,700 students die from alcohol-related injuries each year.

A new campus security product

Revolar is a new wearable safety device, www.revolar.com. The Revolar technology allows students to call for help if they are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. With either 1, 2 or 3 clicks, they can send a Check-In, Yellow Alert or Red Alert to family or friends.

It’s discreet, so students can notify loved ones without pulling out their phones to send a text or making a phone call. It’s quick and less likely to escalate a situation.

Selected contacts can see a student’s specific location and take appropriate action once Revolar’s notifications are sent from the press of a button. One click means “I’m just checking in,” two clicks mean “Not urgent, but please get ahold of me,” and three clicks mean “Urgent!”

The more you know, the safer you’ll be.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.comwww.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com