As a freshman, I wasn’t too into partying—unless my friends convinced me to come along—but I loved going to the local, crowded mall. After being out in a busy, public place so much I learned to become hyper-vigilant about my safety, and my friends, in a lot of different ways. Here are just a few of the safety tips that I use:
1. Be aware of ANY and ALL emergency towers
These “towers” normally have buttons to press or phones on them with bright emergency lights on top. They alert your campus public safety that you need help. This can save a life in worst case scenarios. Getting to know where the emergency towers are located is probably on of the best safety tips for new students. I’ve got a small campus so our towers are pretty far apart but can be found at the major hot spots on campus. Get to know where they are on your campus before you’re ever in a situation where you’re scrambling to find one.
2. ALWAYS lock your dorm door.
Of course you’ll become content with floor mates and housemates but you can never be too certain. Invest in a safe and keep any valuables in there when not in use or when you’re not in your room. When I lived in a suite—8 girls living in four rooms with shared common room—we locked the door to our rooms but left the door to the hallway unlocked on weekend and vice versa during the week. Talk to who you’re living with about any safety concerns you have about your living arrangement.
3. Keep a first aid kit in your room.
It doesn’t have to be anything big, just the basics for you and your roommate. I keep one in my desk after having all of my roommates—myself included—cut their legs while shaving and not be able to stop the bleeding because they didn’t have a band aid. These kits come in handy and include things that you might not think to get like gauze or ,alcohol wipes.
4. If you see anything weird, say something!
I live on a small, friendly campus. People are always holding the door open for each other. One day we had an unwelcome visitor due to this friendliness. He was harmless, but if it had been someone else this may have been a threat to campus safety. Someone called security because he was going door to door and was making students felt unsafe. So, even if you are unsure, trust your gut and call campus security.
5. Get to know your campus security.
They can often be a lifeline—they’ll tell you where to go and where to stay away from, especially if you’re at a bigger campus. Know that they are there to help and protect you. They always want what’s best for you. Many of these officers have children, have served our country, or have worked as police officers. They understand that you’re in college and trying to have fun—they don’t want to see anything cut your experience short.
1. Charge your phone.
When you leave to go out, make sure that your phone is fully charged. Keep a backup charger with you in your purse too—this can help you in cases of emergency where you need to call a taxi or find a friend that you’ve been separated from. You can pick up a cheap portable charger online and in many stores.
2. Keep an eye on your friends.
If you’re at a party, don’t let your friends leave with or go off by themselves with people that you’re not familiar with. I’ve been at parties and have seen girls get too drunk a number of times. I wasn’t familiar with these girls in most cases, but I would always pull them aside or hug them and ask them where their friends were. Some of these girls would then happily stumble over to their friends screaming and yelling their names. On the other hand, quite a few of these girls were confused and needed help. If you can, always help someone else out—you could seriously be their saving grace and prevent them from being involved in a bad situation. You can do something as simple as say, “Hey! Where is ____? Can you come with me to get them?” or even, “Hey! Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you!” If they aren’t able to locate any of their friends then let them ride along in your taxi or help them get back to their dorm some other way.
3. Always be aware of your surroundings.
I’ve been to a few parties that have been busted by the police, forcing my friends and I to grab a taxi or find another safe way home. Whenever we had a difficult time getting a taxi we would walk up and down streets together hoping to catch an empty cab.
One night after a party had be busted up one of my friends was unable to stand up and another couldn’t walk straight. A big group of guys came over to us. They took pictures of our friend lying on the ground and tried to get the rest of us to go with them. I suggested that we leave and move to a different street with more light and traffic. Had we not moved our night could have ended completely differently. Be mindful of your surroundings, think fast and be quick on your feet.
4. Make sure you ICE your phone.
ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency”— this helps anyone who may find you or your phone know who to contact in case of an emergency (whaddaya know?!). Phones used to highlight these names in red but don’t anymore so I just put ICE in their name somewhere. If you have an iPhone, you can also create a personal medical ID by going to the health app and selecting “medical ID” in the bottom right-hand corner.
5. Use your phone as a safety tool.
Download any and all personal safety apps that you think could be useful. My personal favorites are React Mobile, Stay Safe, and On Watch. Most of these apps allow you to send real time data about your location, silent texts (in case you are in a situation where you can’t speak), timers (if you go on a run and expect to be back at a certain time), and have a touch to alert safety feature. My favorite aspect of these apps are touch to alert, this alerts any emergency contacts that you’ve set up that you feel unsafe. If the situation passes and you feel safe, you can then press a button to alert them that you are safe.
Let us know the safety tips that you find helpful, comment below or tweet us @SOCIETY19!