BY GORDON SCHORR
Now that you are living on your own for the first time, whether it be in a dorm room or your own apartment on or near campus, you can’t just throw caution to the wind. Remember all of those safety tips your mother drilled into you when you were a kid? These were important things to learn, and things that you need to remember no matter where you are. Let’s take a look at some of the best safety tips for college students.
Give Someone Your Schedule
It is a good idea to make sure that friends and family members know your routine. That way, if there is an emergency, or if you aren’t where you should be, someone will know and be able to help you if you need it, or at least get in touch with you if something should happen.
Lock Your Doors
Even if you are in a dorm room, it is important to keep your doors locked at all time, whether you are there or not. Even if you are just stepping out to go to the kitchen for a minute, lock up. It only takes a few seconds for someone to get into your room and steal your valuables. Remember to keep your windows locked as well.
Install Door and Window Alarms
Most dorms and apartment buildings have security alarms, but it can’t hurt to have additional alarms on your doors and windows. These are inexpensive and easy to install, and they will alert you if someone tries to sneak in. If you are not there, someone will be alerted and be able to call the police.
Get some Pepper Spray
“If it is legal in your area, get yourself a can of pepper spray, and carry it with you at all times, especially when you are out alone at night,” suggests an expert at Pain Free NYC. If pepper spray is not legal, carry a small can of hair spray in your purse or pocket. It can give you enough time to momentarily confuse an attacker so you can get away.
Hide Your Valuables
Don’t leave valuables laying around for anyone to see. Get a small safe, such as a diversion safe that looks like an everyday object, to hide your valuables in. Also, don’t flaunt expensive jewelry, clothing, laptops and other gadgets, etc. The wrong people may just take notice and then try to steal them from you.
Create an Evacuation Plan
It is important to have an evacuation plan in the event of a fire. Create a plan that is going to give you the easiest and quickest route out of the building, and include alternative paths just in case one is blocked. Practice your evacuation plan periodically to keep it fresh in your mind should you need to use it.
Use the Elevator
A lot of violent crimes happen in dark, quiet stairwells. Always use the elevator rather than the stairs whenever possible. If there is someone in the elevator that seems sketchy, simply don’t get on, and wait for the next one. Always trust your instincts, especially when they are telling you to be careful.
“Look for ways that you can prevent injuries from happening. It only takes a stray item on the floor to cause a broken bone if you trip and fall over it. Pick things up and keep your space uncluttered,” says Dr. Leon Reyfman. Don’t run up and down the stairs, even if you are late. Accidents are preventable.
Avoid Using Candles
It is a good idea to stock up on flashlights, battery operated candles, etc. That way, if there is a power outage, you will have light, but it won’t be dangerous. It is far too easy to start fires when you are using candles, and you can get plenty of cheap flashlights at your local dollar store.
Gordon Schorr is an online educator and creative writer