Monday, October 5, 2015

Tips for Keeping You and Your Possessions Safe at College

If you've just started college, and you've moved away from home. You're finding out, by now, that you need to take care of your stuff, and yourself. No one else is going to be there to do it for you. Today I'm teaming up with Maurine from Gravitate Online to give you some tips on keeping yourself and your stuff safe while away at college.
Maurine works as a content creator over at Gravitate online, but she also has a blog of her own that you can check out HERE.

Tips for Keeping You and Your Possessions Safe at College
By: Maurine Dashney
Headed to college for the first time? Living on campus is a different experience entirely from any that you’ve known before, and it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that come along with campus living. Here are some essential tips to staying safe—and keeping your possessions safe—while you’re away at college.
Don’t let strangers into your building.
It may be customary to hold the door open for those behind you as you walk into a building, but you should hold back this habit whenever you are entering your dorm or apartment building. Stalkers and unwanted visitors often make their way into student housing facilities simply by following an unsuspecting student into the building.

Lock your door at all times.
Even if you maintain a high level of trust with the people you share a hall with, you should be sure to keep your dorm or apartment door locked at all times. This includes those times when you may be leaving for only a moment to take a shower or to borrow something from a neighbor. You never know when a visitor to your building might walk by your door and take advantage of its being unlocked. Be sure that your door is locked when you are sleeping as well; in addition to keeping out potential burglars, this will prevent drunk students from stumbling into your living space by accident.

Keep your keys in a safe place.
If you’re a new college student, you’re probably not used to carrying around a student ID and dorm key everywhere you go. You should store your keys and ID card in such a way that you’ll always know where they are. Many students opt for a small wallet that has a key ring built onto it, or for a lanyard that you can wear around your neck.
Fill your phone with emergency numbers.
Sure, you might have your parents’ phone numbers in your phone, but have you considered other important phone numbers such as your credit card company or the local crime reporting number? Prepare your phone for emergencies like having your wallet stolen or needing to report a crime you see on campus to campus police. (It’s a good idea to memorize these key numbers as well in case your phone is stolen and need to use a campus emergency phone.) You can even register your phone to receive university- and community-wide emergency alerts.

Secure your laptop.
Your laptop is your livelihood when you’re away at college. Protect the information stored on your computer by using a secure front-entry password and encrypting your hard drive. You can also install a small tracking device on your laptop or download laptop tracking software. Some students will even invest in a laptop lock, which will keep your laptop secured to your working surface and prevent it from being stolen.
Keep an eye on your car.
If you brought your car with you to school, you might find that you’re not using it as frequently as you did when you lived back at home. This could make for long periods of time when your car is left unattended. Even if you aren’t driving it, go check on it every so often to ensure that there hasn’t been any suspicious activity. As this article details, it’s a good idea to keep your car parked in a well-lit area and to keep any valuables in your car out of sight.
Don’t leave your things unattended.
Whether you’re studying in the library or doing your laundry at the residential laundry facility, it’s never a good idea to leave your laptop or study materials unattended. If you need to run and grab a book off of a bookshelf or quickly change your laundry, enlist the help of a friend to watch your things while you’re gone—or take your things with you. Even if you attend a school that holds its honor code in high regard, you can never be too careful.
Share your whereabouts with others.
Swap schedules with a friend or roommate at the beginning of the semester, and keep your friends posted on where you are going at all times.

Never walk alone at night.
This might sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how often those late library study sessions or gym workouts will leave you needing to find your way back home at night. Always plan on traveling home with a friend, and take advantage of the public transportation that your college campus offers. This especially applies to those nights when you might be out drinking with friends.
Change your routine.
To deter others from following you, make an effort to change up your routine once or twice a week, varying when you go to the gym, for example, or walking a different way to get to class.
Secure your home during breaks.
Burglars will take advantage of those periods when the majority of students are away to get their thieving done. Whenever you head home for a weekend or long break, be sure to secure your dorm or apartment before leaving. This article details some essential tips for protecting your home during a vacation that can apply to university students as well.

Maurine hit so many really great points. A little on keeping yourself safe: you can replace things, it's a pain and you, obviously don't want to deal with that. So let's follow Maurine's advice and keep things locked up and close by. But you can replace them if they get taken. You can't replace you.

I just want to echo what has already been said. Do NOT walk alone at night! If you're driving somewhere at night, park under a street light. The "bad guys" are much less likely to attack you if you're somewhere well lit.

Lock your doors, and keep your windows shut at night. Let's not just invite the intruders in. Don't make yourself an easy target that way.

Change your routine! I took a self defense class (which is another great thing you should do to keep yourself safe!) and during that class the teacher always stressed that we need to change your routine. Don't leave at the exact same time every day. Go a different way to class or work. Run at different times of the day. The attacker always knows you. You might not know them, but when they can find someone with a daily routine, they will stalk you and learn when you're most vulnerable. So even little changes help!

Be smart with who you go on dates with. Carry pepper spray or a small knife with you. Go on double dates.

The bottom line is be smart and keep yourself safe!

Did you move away for college?

Do you have any safety tips you want to share?

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