Part of living independently on a college campus, or anywhere for that matter, involves being safe when you’re living alone, or are going other places. I want to provide a few tips on safety and special needs from what I’ve learned from experience.
Cell Phone Use
If you have a cell phone, always keep it with you.
- Make sure you have important “in case of emergency” numbers, such as parents, a neighbor, a friend, people who live nearby that you can trust, and if needed, the police or other law enforcement to help you if you are in a dire situation.
- A lot of phones also have GPS tracking enabled, so if you ever get lost, or you’re with someone or somewhere you don’t know, others could find you as well.
If you don’t have a cell phone, get one, even if it’s only to make a few calls that could make you and your loved ones feel safer and protect you.
Have a Plan
If you feel unsafe in any situation, whether it be at a friend’s house, a party, a library, or whatever, make sure to have a plan in place to ensure your safety.
- Back when I was in high school, I used to have a code word I could call or text my parents that meant I felt uncomfortable and wanted to be picked up or go home.
- Make sure you know how to get home from anywhere you are.
- If you are receiving a ride somewhere, make sure you have a plan to get a ride back and you know who you are riding with.
Just stay one step ahead of a situation so nothing bad happens and if it does, you know exactly what to do!
Don’t Walk Home Alone at Night
This is a big one on my college campus, and there are signs everywhere with ways to avoid walking home alone at night.
- Call a taxi or ride the bus.
- Travel with a group.
- In the event that you feel as if you have no other choice but to walk, make sure you have a phone and keep your hands free (in the event of anything, you could use your hands to make a phone call, etc.).
- Do not deviate off of main paths that are well lit.
I’ve had to walk home from meetings with no ride home at night, and I just followed the sidewalk amongst one of the busiest streets on campus, because it was incredibly well lit and there was lots of traffic so I was always visible. At the beginning of my first semester I had to walk home across campus and there was another group of younger looking, first-year students in front of me leaving from the same bookstore, so I asked if they were headed in the same direction and I ended up walking home with them and felt much better about things!
If you are on a college campus, take a self-defense course.
- This might seem extreme, but many universities offer free self-defense courses through their police departments, especially for women.
You probably won’t ever have to use the things you learn in a self-defense simulation, but they are good skills to know and you don’t have to be in amazing physical shape to take one of these classes. I am by no means any athlete and was able to do it, and if anything, I felt empowered at the end of the training.
Lock Your Door
I know this might sound like common sense, but any reported thefts I’ve heard about on campus have been from apartment-style buildings where the residents don’t lock their front doors.
- Lock your door if you’re not home, are home and don’t want visitors, are sleeping, etc.
In dorms, unlocking your door is more of a common practice if you are home and okay with visitors, but other than that, keep it locked. I lock mine even when I just go downstairs to do my laundry. Locking your door keeps your stuff (and you) protected if you’re home and busy, and helps you be less of a burglary target as well. On that note, if you live on an upper floor, lock your windows as well – it’s not just ground floor apartments and homes that get ambushed in this matter.
- If you’re riding a bus or other public transport, sit closest to the driver.
Sitting up front means that someone else will hear any suspicious happenings if people talk to you unwillingly or ask for personal information, and in most cases the driver of the bus could help you.
Hope this helps you out, and make sure to stay safe! See you all next month!