Binge watching episodes of Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds and The X Files have made me a somewhat paranoid, yet highly alert college student. In all likelihood, most campuses are very safe environments. However, you can never be too cautious. To up your safety game, check out these tips.
1. Program the following numbers into your phone right now: local taxi services, bus station information numbers, campus shuttles, campus security, campus escort, and finally ICE. ICE is an acronym that stands for in case of emergency. This is the first place a rescue service will try to call in case of emergency. If you live off campus you may want to look into services like Smart 911. Smart 911 is a free service that allows you to keep your medical records and security information in a secure place online that emergency responders can access if you call 911. You can upload pictures of yourself, your roommates, and even pets. You can also add any medications you are taking or health concerns that you might have.
2. Use technology and download safety apps like:
• BSafe. This app focuses on turning your phone into a GPS-based panic button. Using the app, you can program your phone to automatically notify your family, 911, or your friends of your exact location with the push of a button. It can also be setup to “fake call you” to let others think that you have someone on the line who would be aware of your situation. BSafe offers a free basic version of their service or you can pay $20 a year for premium service.
• Watch Over Me. This allows you to create your own safety rule tied to a specific amount of time. For example, you might set it before you walk home alone from class at night to call your emergency contact if you don’t check-in within 15 minutes.
• OnWatch. Like the other apps, OnWatch allows you to preset emergency contacts for a one button dial. You can connect it to your local 911, campus security, or even a safe list of friends.
3. Keep an eye out in residence halls and in academic buildings late at night. Most buildings are secure through use of your personal key or an electronic swipe. Be wary of holding the door for strangers and watch for people who aren’t familiar to you lingering near buildings and trying to find a way in. If someone needs to get into the building and they are a student or staff member, they should have their own means. Do not put it on yourself if you are unsure.
4. Lock your door. Thefts and suspicious behavior can be avoided through doing this, even if you’re only gone for a short amount of time. Going to the bathroom? Lock your door. Going to your neighbor’s room? Lock your door. The #1 way a burglar is going to get into your space is by walking through an unlocked door after they piggy back into a building. The people breaking into on-campus homes are not obvious criminals. The people that are breaking into dorms are RAs, football players, basketball players, cross country team members, and other well-known campus members. Keep your guard up and be safe.
5. Travel in groups, don’t walk alone at night and always note where you are if you are venturing off of campus. Trouble is less likely to happen to those sticking in group settings and you always have someone else to rely on for help in case of an emergency. Look out for your friends and they will in turn look out for you and don’t forget to utilize your campus resources when you feel it’s necessary, it’s what they’re there for.
Ali Sewalt is the marketing intern for NextStepU and is a senior at Nazareth College. You can reach her with questions and for advice at Alison@nextstepu.com.
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