Back to College – safely

It has been a while since I sent a child off to college and even longer since I was there myself. If I recall accurately, my dorm room had a plug-in at my desk and at the desk of my roommate and there was one other outlet we used for vacuuming and a frig. When I sent my kids off to college, they had computers, phone and watch chargers, a printer, a frig, a mini crockpot and who know what else and they all required electricity. I can only imagine the number of extension cords and splitters used…a fire hazard and an inspector’s worst nightmare.

Since then, many college dorms have been remodeled to update the electrical systems and to add wifi. The rooms that accommodated 2 or 3 people were split to create two one-person rooms.  Surveys of students not wanting to live in dorms showed that today’s students are not used to being roommates and do not wish to share space…especially if they never shared a room with a sibling.

So, what can a college student do to protect themselves and their property while living in dorm?

Though it is inconvenient to lock and unlock your room every time you come and go, keeping your doors and windows locked, even if you’re just running across the hall for a moment, is a smart safety measure. Never open the door for strangers and verify who is on the other side before opening the door.

Having a dorm security camera is a great way to protect yourself in the off chance something goes missing. A wireless motion-activated surveillance camera can capture high-definition video and sound which is streamed live to your phone.

A small fire resistant safe in your dorm room can keep jewelry, electronics, credit cards and cash safe. Look for something heavy-duty and keyless. For larger items, you might want to consider insurance to cover the expense if it stolen.

As a college student, you have no way of knowing how many copies of your room key has been “lost” or duplicated. A security bar is also useful for safeguarding against ‘forced’ entries.

Keep pepper spray with you. A recent study revealed that a woman aiming pepper spray at them generally caused a would-be attacker to flee. A woman who attempted to defend herself normally wasn’t worth the trouble.

Be sure to enter all your emergency numbers in your phone, have a physical copy of the numbers in your room and know all the emergency exit routes.

Always use the elevator.  Stairwells are a common choice for attackers. If you must use a stairwell, bring a friend with you. If you are on the elevator with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, get off at the next floor. If you are about to get on an elevator and the current occupant make you uncomfortable, wait for the next elevator. 

Never take your safety for granted. College life can be an exciting part of your life but you want those memories to be good ones.

Brenda Schmitt

A Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Family Finance Field Specialist helping North Central Iowans make the most of their money.

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