Our College Safety and Self-Defense Guide

College is a place of great opportunities to make lasting friendships, learn incredible things and pave the way towards a bright future. However, it also comes with certain risks to your personal safety. You don’t have to live in fear on your college campus. Like any risks in life, your chances of becoming a victim can be greatly reduced if you take the proper precautions.

Take a Self-Defense Class

Being skilled in the art of self-defense is incredibly beneficial to your safety no matter your age or gender. Self-defense is not strictly fighting. In fact, most self-defense classes will teach you many methods of escape or incapacitating an attacker without exerting a lot of physical force. This is so everyone, no matter your body type or physical capabilities, can have a greater chance of getting away from the danger without relying on fighting prowess.

They also teach you psychological methods of attack prevention and how to mentally deal with an emergency situation. Many classes even teach you how to negotiate your way out of the danger, if possible.

What you’ll learn in self-defense classes will not only help you stay safe on campus, but it will also be invaluable to your life after you graduate. Many universities have adopted self-defense classes as part of the curriculum or as an extracurricular course.

Carry Pepper Spray and a Whistle

In a pinch, pepper spray and safety whistles are great assets to have in the event of an attack. Keep them on you in an easily accessed pocket, on your keys or in your hands whenever you’re out walking. Safety whistles can even be conveniently carried on a necklace or bracelet. If you decide to keep these items in your purse or backpack, don’t let them get buried. Keep them in a dedicated pouch in the front, or always keep them on the top of the items in the bag. It’s also a good idea to practice quickly whipping out the spray or whistle in the case of an emergency.

Lock Up

Your dorm room should be treated just like a house or apartment. Just because you’re in a building filled with college kids doesn’t mean your unlocked door won’t be seen as an invitation to potential thieves and predators. Even if you’re only leaving for a moment, lock the door behind you.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to buy a safe for your dorm room. It doesn’t have to be massive, extremely heavy or bulky, but anything small enough to slide under the bed is a good option. Store emergency money, unused electronics and other valuables within the safe, and only open it when necessary.

Remember, just because a safe is small and portable doesn’t mean it’s not secure. Many portable safes have strong cables that allow them to be tethered to furniture, and many people won’t steal a small safe anyway since it’s so difficult to get the lock open. Like a security system sign will deter intruders no matter if you actually have a system or not, merely seeing a secure safe will be a good deterrent for potential thieves.

Be Responsible with Alcohol

While most people on college campuses are under the legal drinking age, there’s no denying that alcohol consumption is common for college students either on campus or off. It’s always a good idea to wait until you are of legal age to drink, but if you intend on drinking anyway remember to always keep an eye on your drinks. Never leave your drink unattended. Don’t accept any drink handed to you by people you don’t know and fully trust.

Know your limits, and avoid becoming inebriated. You not only become a danger to yourself when you become drunk, but others may take advantage of you as well.

Before you start drinking, make plans for a designated driver, a taxi or ride-sharing service to pick you up at a specified time. If you choose to use a ride-sharing service, have someone else verify the license place before getting into the vehicle. Finally, remember that it’s always safest to avoid drinking altogether.

Never Walk Alone at Night

Whether you’re hanging out with friends, studying late or taking night classes, you’ll most likely have to walk around campus at night at some point. However, the darkness and lack of people make it a hot spot for danger.

People are always much less vulnerable when there is someone else accompanying them. Ask a friend to walk with you to your destination, or ask someone in campus security if they’ll escort you. Many campuses even have a safe riding system where students are transported by security officers to their destinations in brightly lit vehicles.

Avoid Being Distracted by Technology

College students have adopted a wide range of technology in recent years. Tablets help with studying and research, cell phones keep you connected with friends and family as you take your first steps to independence, and laptops make schoolwork much easier to do wherever you are. However, they tend to eat up all of our attention when we’re using them.

Students become less aware of their surroundings when they’re walking along listening to music or podcasts or sitting on a bench writing a paper. Bags and other items are stolen from under their noses, they become accident-prone when they’re walking or driving, and they become good targets for potential predators.

Technology is always great to have on college campuses, but make sure to be mindful of your belongings and your surroundings at all times. In addition, it’s always best to avoid cell phone and tablet usage while driving. At the very least, enable a hands-free setup for your phone in your vehicle.

Utilize Safety Apps

Your smartphone may create a hazard in being a distraction, but it can also save your life. There are many safety apps that you can download to help you in the event of a medical emergency, accident or attack. For instance, some apps allow you to set a destination and press a button to start tracking your location. If you don’t check in at the desired location within a reasonable time, the app alerts the emergency contacts that you have set in the app.

Some apps will alert everyone on a list of custom contacts via text message in the event of an emergency situation with the push of a button or a shake of the device. You can even get an app where a push of a button will trigger an incredibly loud siren or scream sound to stave off attackers.

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