Off–Campus Safety Tips

Deciding whether to live on or off campus is a significant decision. In addition to the conveniences, opportunities, and freedom that either option presents, you must also consider the responsibilities associated with both. Your safety is very important.

  • Always lock the door behind you when returning home, especially late at night.

    Make sure balcony doors and windows are locked.

    Call the police if you see any unusual or suspicious individuals loitering around your residence.

    Lock all exterior doors and lock deadbolts, even when you are inside your home. Make sure all motion sensor lights are working.

    Install a security system. Make sure your alarm is on even when you are inside the house.

  • Ask a friend to accompany you.

    Communicate that you’re calm and confident and know where you’re going by standing tall, walking purposefully and making quick eye contact with people around you.

    Stay alert. Keep your mind on your surroundings.

    Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave.

    Vary your route and schedule.

    Wear reflective clothing at night.

    Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or side trouser pocket, not in the rear trouser pocket.

    Bring emergency change for cab fare or telephone calls.

    Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or clothing or “flash” cash.

    Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.

    If you suspect you’re being followed by someone on foot, cross the street and head for the nearest well-lighted, populated area. Walk quickly or run to a house or building to call the police.

    Avoid jogging and biking at night. Choose routes that are safe and well-populated. Tell someone where you will be going. Vary your route and schedule.

    Wear bright, reflective clothing and carry some sort of identification. Consider not wearing your stereo headphones. Carry a shriek alarm or whistle.

  • Wear your seatbelt!

    Make sure to keep your car in good running condition.

    Park in well-lit areas.

    Drive with all car doors locked.

    Plan your route in advance, particularly on long or unfamiliar trips.

    Keep windows rolled up. Keep your vehicle locked when it is parked.

    Never pick up hitchhikers.

    If your car breaks down, raise the hood, use flares, or tie a white cloth to the door handle. Stay in the locked car. When someone stops, ask the person to phone for help.

    If you are being followed while driving, drive to the nearest police or fire station, the Main Gate, an open business, or another area where you can safely call the police. Write down the license number and description of the vehicle and secure a description of the driver. If there are no safe areas around, honk your horn repeatedly and turn on your emergency flashers.

  • Remain calm; don’t panic or show any signs of anger or confusion. Remember, your common sense is your best weapon.

    If the attacker is only after your purse or other valuables, don’t resist. You don’t want to escalate a property crime into a violent confrontation. Cash, credit cards, cell phones, etc. can be replaced; YOU can’t.

    If it is clearly not just a property crime, remain calm and try to throw the attacker off-guard. Strike back fast and aim for vital areas like the eyes, throat, or groin to make it hurt.

    If there are people nearby, scream and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. Screaming “FIRE” will usually attract attention.

    Call the police immediately. Identify yourself and your location.

    Contact your local victim assistance agency. The agency can help people deal with the trauma of being attacked and also help you learn about victim compensation laws and how to follow your case’s progress.

    Contact the University Counseling Center and ask to speak to a counselor. Counselors are trained to assist individuals who have experienced trauma and are used to working with college students.

    If the crime is a sexual assault, there are a number of people and resources who can assist you. Please see the CARE brochure.

  • If you will be out after dark, be sure to leave a different light on.

    Always lock all doors and windows, and turn on your alarm.

    When you are out, leave a radio or TV on.

    Install timers on lights.

    Don’t keep consistent hours – vary your departure/arrival times.

  • If you have a good relationship with neighbors, ask them to keep an eye on your apartment or house and to look for anything out of the ordinary while you are gone. Leave a contact number where they can reach you.

    Do not leave valuables on the property.

    Contact the appropriate agencies to hold your newspaper and mail.

    Let your landlord know you will be away. Ask if they can keep an eye on the property.

    Consider buying randomized light timers that go off at odd hours, especially at night. It is a great way to give the impression that someone is in the house. These timers are inexpensive, easy to use, and available at any hardware store, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.

  • If you’re living off campus, be fire conscious!
    Use the following checklist for your apartment or house to be sure you’re safe in case of a fire:

    Smoke Detectors- Check to make sure that you have working smoke detectors by testing them once a month. Change the batteries in your smoke detector every six months, and make sure they're never disconnected.

    Make sure at least one smoke detector is on every floor of the house. They should be located near each bedroom, either on the ceiling or just a few inches below the ceiling on the wall.

    The detector should have a distinct warning signal that you'll be sure to hear whether you're awake or asleep.

    Be aware of the escape plan and an alternate escape plan. Rehearse the escape plan and routes you will take. Make sure you have an outdoor meeting location where everyone will go, so that you can be sure everyone has made it out safe.

    Make sure you have the phone number of the fire department stored in your cell phone and posted on any land lines.

    Other Basic Fire Measures:

    Don’t use extension cords whenever possible. When you have to use them, make sure they, and all other wires, never have to go under rugs or over doorways.

    Do not overload electrical outlets.

    Keep combustible materials like curtains, sheets and rugs away from appliances that may heat up, like computers, TVs, stoves, microwaves, or heaters.

    Never smoke in bed. Always keep ashtrays and other smoking materials away from combustible materials.

    Take care to make sure that piles of paper and trash are kept tidy and away from wires and heating appliances.

    Do not leave a stove unattended while cooking.

  • Lock your doors. All doors in your house should be locked at all times. If you have a car, make sure you keep those doors locked as well. Landlords are required to provide effective locks for residences - contact your landlord if you have concerns about any security devices in your house.

    Lock your windows. Don't give burglars an opportunity to gain easy access to your home. Keep your windows locked at all times.

    Leave an outside light on at night.

    If someone you don't know enters your residence, call the police immediately via 911.

    Mind your valuables. Keep your valuables out of sight at all times.

    Secure your laptop. Make sure that you purchase a lock for your laptop and keep it locked, even when in your home.