8 Safety Tips Every College Student Should Know this Semester

Whether you plan to attend college in a big city or a rural area, it’s important to be aware of your own safety. Many of the parents and students who come to Addition Financial for advice about college loans and financing also want advice about how to prepare for college.

One question we hear a lot has to do with safety tips for college students. Every campus is different, but here are eight tips to help keep you safe this semester.

#1: Learn About Your College’s Security Program

Most colleges have internal security to keep students and faculty safe. The services available may vary from campus to campus, but some options may include:

  • Blue light emergency phones
  • Campus escort service
  • Safety maps of the campus and surrounding areas

It’s a good idea to visit your college’s security office and learn about what programs are available. That way you’ll know what your options are, and you can use them to keep safe.

#2: Download a Safety App

Next, consider downloading a safety app onto your phone. You can find a list of apps on this site, but here a couple we think are especially worthwhile:

  • bSafe is an app that lets you have a friend watch your progress on a map. Other features include a voice-activated alarm and the option to send a live stream of what’s happening around you.
  • OneScream is an app that will detect “urgent” screams and send help to your exact location.
  • Kitestring is a text-based app that you can turn on and it will notify your friends if you don’t respond to their texts.

In addition to the apps we’ve listed here, your college may offer its own safety app. You may want to choose more than one to keep you safe.

#3: Carry a Whistle or Pepper Spray

Some college campuses now provide students with whistles to use if they are in danger. If yours doesn’t, you should consider buying a whistle or a canister of pepper spray to carry with you at all times.

A whistle might not seem like much of a defense, but most attackers want to get away with their crimes. A piercing whistle can be enough to send them running away, allowing you to escape. Pepper spray is designed to debilitate an attacker so that you can get away. Either option can provide an extra layer of safety on campus.

#4: Use the Buddy System

Sometimes, the old tried-and-true methods of staying safe still work, and that’s true of the buddy system. If you can possibly avoid it, don’t walk alone at night. Either go with a friend or group of friends, or, if that’s not possible, use your campus escort service to get you home safely.

The buddy system is also useful at parties. When people are drinking, it’s not a good idea to stay at a party without at least one person who you know and trust.

The Alumni Approved College Handbook for Incoming Freshmen

#5: Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended

There’s no question that assault continues to be a big problem on college campuses around the country. One of the best ways to avoid it is to make sure that you always know where your drink is when you’re at a party.

In a perfect world, nobody would need to worry about their drink being drugged. However, it’s especially important for women to be mindful when they’re drinking. If you must leave your drink unattended, simply discard it and get a new one when you can.

#6: Drink in Moderation

Drinking is common on college campuses. Whether you have reached the legal drinking age or not, it’s important to remember that alcohol can impair your judgment and make you an attractive target for criminals.

The solution is to drink in moderation. Sometimes, peer pressure can lead students to drink too much. A good way to avoid a confrontation is to alternate one non-alcoholic beverage for every alcoholic one. Nobody will be able to tell the difference between a plain Coke and one that has rum in it – and you’ll be safer if you’re not drinking too much.

#7: Always Lock Your Room and Car

College dorm rooms are attractive targets for thieves. If they can gain access to a dorm, they can hit several rooms – and it’s easier for them if the rooms are unlocked. Even if you’re just leaving for a few minutes, get in the habit of locking your door.

The same is true if you have a car. Never leave it unlocked and always make sure to engage the alarm if you have one.

#8: Know Your Way Around

One of the best and easiest things you can do to stay safe on campus is to know your way around. When you first arrive on campus, take some time to familiarize yourself with the area. If you can, buy a map and study it. Make sure to explore during daylight hours.

On a related note, don’t be tempted to take an unfamiliar path or shortcut if you’re alone, especially at night. Sticking to well-lighted routes that you know well will always be a safer choice than heading off the beaten path to save a few minutes.

Staying safe is a priority for every college student. The eight safety tips we’ve outlined here will help you stay safe on campus.

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