Personal Safety Tips

Safety First

Here are simple tips for protecting your residence and belongings. If you have roommates, make sure they understand and follow these same tips:

  • The majority of thefts from dorm rooms and apartments happen when the residents are not in, but the door is unlocked. Lock the door to your room whenever you leave, even if it is just for a few minutes. Lock your door when you are showering or sleeping. Never compromise your safety for a roommate who asks you to leave the door unlocked.
  • Doors and windows to your residence hall should be equipped with quality locking mechanisms. Room doors should be equipped with peep holes and deadbolts.
  • Do not leave your personal identification on your key rings.
  • Do not loan out your key. Rekey locks when a key is lost or stolen.
  • If you live on the ground floor, lock your windows. If you discover that your door or window does not lock, leave a maintenance re­quest to have it repaired and contact your resident assistant.
  • If you live in a unit with a sliding glass door, secure it further by placing a length of wood (a dowel or broom handle) in the track on the floor to stop it from opening.
  • Get to know your neighbors.
  • Don’t leave exterior doors or inner lobby doors propped open when they should be closed. If you find one open, close it.
  • Dormitories should have a central entrance/exit lobby where night­time access is monitored, as well as an outside telephone which visi­tors must use to gain access.
  • Never allow individuals you do not recognize, and who do not have a key or pass-card, to enter a building. This includes pizza delivery drivers and other service personnel in uniform.
  • Do not leave your identification, wallet, checkbook, jewelry, cameras, and other valuables in open view. Keep them in locked desks and cabinets.
  • Record the serial numbers of valuable objects you have in your room. Engrave such objects with your name.
  • If you have voice mail or an answering machine, don’t leave a message that indicates your name, address, or that you are away from your residence. Simply state that you are unavailable.
  • Program your phone’s speed dial memory with emergency numbers that include family and friends.
  • If you have a laptop computer, lock it in a desk or cabinet when you’re out of your room — and keep in your immediate possession at all other times. The same is true for a cell phone.
  • Be particularly careful as you are moving in or out of your room. Have family or friends assist you by watching your valuables at both ends: your room and the vehicle holding them.

When you are away from your residence, leave interior lights and a radio or television on. Use a timer if you will be gone for more than one day.

  • Turn lights on in several rooms when you’re home alone.
  • List only your first initial with your phone number in the phone book. List only your initials and last name on the mailbox.
  • Use outside lights at each entrance to your residence. (If you don’t control the exterior lights, ask your landlord to install them.) Make sure the lights are turned off during the day.
  • Keep shrubbery trimmed so as not to provide a cover for a burglar.
  • Keep spare keys with neighbors because burglars know hid­ing places, like under mats, in the mailbox, etc.
  • If you will be gone for several days, inform a neighbor you can trust. Stop delivery of your mail and newspaper. Use light timers in several rooms.
  • If there is a Neighborhood Watch in your area, join it. This organization will be able to keep you up-to-date on crimi­nal activity in your area.

A new social life and great nights out are all part of the university experience. A little forethought before going out will ensure a night to remember for the right reasons.

  • Know how you will get home – plan ahead, particularly if you’re going to a part of town you don’t know.
  • Eat before you go out and drink plenty of water. Drinking a glass of water or a soft drink between alcoholic drinks will help you not to get drunk.
  • Do carry a personal alarm with you – many men see these as female accessories and somehow not macho. But figures show that male students stand a much higher risk of been attacked in the street.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to be back.
  • Ensure your mobile phone is charged and is in credit. Keep the money you need to get home separate, so that you don’t spend it.
  • Watch how much you drink. It is much easier to do something risky or foolish when you’re drunk; and you’re much more likely to lose your keys, cash or phone when you’ve had too much to drink.
  • Keep track of what you’re drinking, as well as how much. Drinks do get spiked with drugs, so do not leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from a stranger.
  • Always leave a club or pub with a friend or a group of friends.
  • If you use public transport to get home, sit near the driver on a bus or a tram, and in an occupied carriage on a train or the underground.
  • Pre-book a licensed taxi, or know the locations of official taxi ranks. Your students’ union is sure to have a list of recommended taxi companies.
  • Walking may not be the best option, but if you have to, do not walk home alone in the dark. Keep to well-lit, busy streets, main roads and footpaths. Avoid badly lit areas, parks, alleyways and underpasses.
  • Your university and students’ union will be able to offer plenty of advice about drinking safely and staying safe, so don’t ignore it. But do have fun!

Don’t make it easy for a potential thief to help themselves to your possessions.

  • Ensure you have adequate personal belongings insurance – over half the students who fall prey to theft and burglary are not insured.
  • Mark your possessions with a UV pen – your student registration number plus the initials of your university makes a unique number.
  • Do not leave cash or jewelry lying around the house and keep valuables out of sight, and where possible in a secure place.
  • Consider secure storage for expensive items if you are leaving these over the vacation. International students might find this service particularly helpful.
  • Dial *#06# for your unique mobile registration (IMEI) number – the first thing the police will check for when recovering stolen property.
  • Avoid using your phone in isolated places. Remember that texting can distract you from what is happening around you. When you are out and about switch your mobile to vibrate mode rather than a ring tone
  • always contact your network provider to block the phone’s use or you may be liable for the cost of any calls, and if you know the phone has been stolen you must inform the police. Mobiles are by far and away the items most stolen from young people.
  • Invest in a good quality bicycle lock and use it. Always leave your bike in a designated bike park, or a well-lit, public place and lock it to something immoveable. Remember to lock your bike at home too, whether it’s kept in a garage or your halls of residence. Around half the bikes stolen are taken from the owner’s home
  • Immobilize your car whenever you leave it even for a few minutes. Think about where you park. Stealing from vehicles is a major problem and you should routinely remove your CD player and store them in a safe place.