(BPT) - When more than 20 million students return to campus this fall fixated on their dream dorm decor or finding the perfect major, one of the most crucial aspects of their college experience will likely be overlooked - personal safety.
One in five women will become a victim of sexual assault on campus and more than 10,000 students will experience aggravated assault and robbery every year, according to the 2014 Presidential task force. SABRE, the No. 1 personal safety brand trusted by leading law enforcement agencies, offers tips and advice on how students can be safe on campus this year.
1. Beware of the Red Zone
Law enforcement calls September and October, the first two months of school, the Red Zone for good reason. These two months have the highest amount of injuries, accidents and deaths than any other time of year. It’s essential to be extra cautious during these first two months as you are living on your own for the first time.
2. Be aware of your surroundings at all times
While considered a safety precaution by many students, talking or texting on your smartphone can actually send a signal that you are not aware of your surroundings, nor paying attention. Putting away your technology while in vulnerable situations, such as walking home from class at night, will help you look more confident and allow you to be able to respond more quickly to any situation that may arise.
3. Always carry pepper gel in-hand while walking alone.
With a 10-foot range, pepper gel is an ideal way to temporarily disable potential assailants, all while keeping them at a safe distance. Pepper gel has no effect on bystanders and is safe to use indoors, which makes it ideal if needed for use in a dorm room, at an athletic event, or a party.
4. Be prepared by taking a college safety course.
By learning defense techniques and ways to ward off an attacker, you can feel prepared, not scared while walking around your campus. One example is the SABRE college safety program available at campuses nationwide.
5. Get familiar with your campus before it gets dark.
It is essential to take a walk through your campus during the daytime before exploring at night. This way you can learn the safe paths that are the most well-lit and plan your route home from your classes, the library and on-campus activities in advance. Pay attention to where the “blue light” phones are located that can help you contact campus police in the event of an emergency.
6. Be protected at home as well as on-the-go.
Remember that your dorm or apartment is not like your home. Dozens of strangers are coming in and out of your new dorm each day. An easy-to-install door or window alarm like the one included in this SABRE Dorm/Apartment kit can provide an affordable way to protect your new on-campus home. The personal alarm, also included in this kit, can call attention to a situation or deter a potential attacker by the shockingly loud sound of the alarm.
7. Party smart by using the buddy system both when with friends and traveling alone.
Always make sure you have a friend you know and trust with you at a party. When out on your own, always make sure a friend or roommate knows where you will be and when you can be expected home. Additionally, make sure your cell phone is charged and that you are carrying extra cash before heading out for the evening.