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Personal safety and security on college campuses is a regular conversation I had with my daughter prior to her leaving for her freshman year. From news reports, we know that no university is immune to campus crime from petty theft to sexual assault. Students are often careless in leaving car doors and dorm doors unlocked making them easy targets. They believe nothing can happen to them – until it does. They are also often unaware of their surroundings because they are focused on their cell phone rather than being vigilant to spot potential hazards.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where not everyone can be trusted and while their roommate might be their best friend, they might not be very familiar with others who are coming in and out of the room to visit nor will they always be present when their roommate is having guests. A personal safe like this one from Sharper Image is great because it’s a name you can trust and a brick and mortar store you can return it to if you’re not happy. It locks and has an 18″ steel coil to wrap around a bed rail or some other hard to move piece furniture. It comes in a variety of colors and, as of writing this article, was only $49.99. This was the one I purchased for my daughter and she said it worked well. Students should learn to protect their credit/debit cards, checkbooks, jewelry and cash from unwanted hands.
I also purchased pepper spray for her that attached to her keychain so that I knew she couldn’t forget it at home (make sure this is legal in your state). I liked this one because it’s cute, pink, and attached easily to her keys. We went over how to use it and even practiced outside on a day that wasn’t the least bit windy before I sent her off with it. I wanted to make sure that she had actually used it prior to a time when she needed it in an emergency. Luckily, she hasn’t had to use it. It was only $9.99 – cheap peace of mind.
There are many inexpensive personal alarms that make a loud noise when activated to scare off a possible threat although the only thing they do is set off a loud alarm. It will attract the attention of anyone nearby but will not alert friends or family that you are in danger. Unlike a personal alarm, this device called, Revolar, sends a message to preprogrammed contacts with your location. Based on the number of clicks to the device, you can alert others to say if it’s an emergency, you’re feeling unsafe, or you’re fine. Plus, it has step tracking and other hidden talents. It’s a little pricey at $79.99 but it offers more than just a blaring alarm and it’s small and discreet.
This is another new device. It’s called Tiny SOS and it works like the Revolar seen above. It’s cheaper at $34.95 but it’s newer so it has far fewer ratings on Amazon from other people who have used it. Again, it’s a step above a personal alarm because it has GPS and can send your location to pre-programmed recipients.
A door stopper is a great way to keep you safe inside your room. Wedged under the door, it keeps the person on the outside from being able to force the door open. It also works very well for situations where a jack-and-jill bathroom is shared by two different rooms but isn’t lockable from the inside of your room. You don’t want unwanted visitors being able to access your room through a shared bathroom. I like these from Wondermax. They come in a pack of three for only $12.99 so you’ll have one for the front door and one for the bathroom door.
Next, are basic locks. There are a variety of inexpensive and easy to use computer locks on the market – these are important because they offer protection from someone walking away with a laptop from a dorm room or in the library when a student gets up and walk away to use the restroom or find a book. They make them for printers as well.
Bikes are a frequently stolen on campuses simply because they aren’t locked up or locked up properly, which is very easily and inexpensively remedied with a quality bike lock. While nothing is ever foolproof, a lock will deter someone’s malicious intent when looking for an easy target.
Does your kid sleep like a rock? This can be worrisome if they reside in an area prone to dangerous weather such as tornadoes or flooding. If you live in one of these areas yourself, you likely have a weather radio to offer sufficient warning to any possible dangers. Having once lived in a tornado-prone area, I know the few precious extra seconds a weather radio can provide. This one, as of the date writing this article, was only $37.48 with free shipping from Walmart. Let’s not forget basic safety items like flashlights and back-up batteries. My daughter’s dorm had several black-outs during her freshman year and she was glad to have these items within. She was very surprised at how few of her friends had one and were instead lighting candles which pose their own danger.
Let’s not forget basic safety items like flashlights and backup batteries. My daughter’s dorm had several blackouts during her freshman year and she was glad to have these items. She was very surprised at how few of her friends had one and were instead lighting candles which pose their own danger and many dorms have rules against their use.
All of these convenient safety items are awesome, but none of them can match common sense. It is a conversation that must be had with your child before packing them off to school and no matter how many eye rolls and the number of times they say, “I know, mom!” it is still important to have the conversation. Of course, you won’t be there to police them so encourage them to set safety rules and boundaries that they will live by. While you don’t want to frighten them, it is important for them to be aware of the possible dangers, how to avoid them, and how to protect themselves from them.
How have you prepared your child to protect him/herself and their belongings in college? Share your thoughts in the comments below and join us on Facebook, Parenting Your College Student.