Top tips for staying safe at university
You can never be too careful
Over the past couple of weeks we have been bombarded with scary news stories and awful things that have happened to a friend of a friend. As students, we fall into the ‘high risk’ group concerning crime risk and we are more likely to be targeted for crimes such as theft, burglary and violent/sexual assault than other members of the community.
Living away from home for the first time independently immediately makes us more vulnerable so don’t just turn a blind eye and hope that nothing bad happens. By taking a few simple precautions you can proactively reduce the level of risk you are exposed to.
Make sure you know how you will get home, do not just rely on others to look out for you. Always go out with a fully charged phone so you are always able to make calls in case of an emergency or if you get separated from the people you are with. Keep some money to one side so you don’t spend it and can use it for getting home.
Prebook your taxis
Never compromise your safety, don’t be stubborn that you’re going to walk home and stingy about paying for a taxi, it’s not worth the risk. Instead of jumping into a black cab, make sure that you pre-book a car with a known and trusted company. Uber and City Taxi will give you the name of your driver and the car registration number in advance so you know that you are getting into the right vehicle. Lack of money can never be an excuse either as Uber charges your bank account online and with City Taxis you can leave them your Ucard and pay them the next day through the university if necessary.
Watch your drinks
The more you drink, the more likely that something risky will happen. Our reactions become slower and we are far less aware of our surroundings. Try and keep track of how many drinks you have had so you are less likely to become drunk out of your control. Eating a big meal beforehand and drinking water in-between drinks can also help.
It’s sadly very common for drinks to get spiked, so never accept a drink off a stranger (no matter how hot they are). Don’t leave your drink unattended anywhere and when moving through the club keep your drink close to your body and cover your glass with the palm of your hand.
Make sure that you always tell somebody where you’re going and what time you expect to be back. During evening/night hours try to stay in groups of three or more. If you go out alone, avoid poorly lit areas, vast open spaces, alleyways and underpasses; instead try and stick to main roads, cities and residential areas.
Do not walk the streets with your music loud and both headphones in your ears, this cuts of one of your senses, making you less alert and more vulnerable. Avoid using your phone in remote places as you’ll be distracted and less aware of your surroundings. Consider carrying a sound alarm with you or walking with your keys in your hands for self defence.
Keep your house secure
Do not invite a thief into your home by making it easy for them to help themselves to your belongings. Make sure that your front door is fitted with a secure Yale type lock (with a chain is even better) and remember to use it! Try not to rely on your housemates, always double check that its locked before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure your bedroom is also secure, lock your door whenever you are not in the house. If you haven’t got a lock on your bedroom, request one from your landlord.
Insure and protect
Over 50% of students that are victims of theft and burglary have not got personal possessions cover, which means that they have to pay out huge amounts of money in order to get their belongings replaced. Take precautions by getting out adequate insurance before it’s too late and you’re forced to buy your expensive mac all over again. Install anti virus and security software on your computer to prevent yourself from being hacked, don’t be foolish in thinking it won’t happen to you. Make sure that you always remember to back up your documents and data so that you are always able to recover your work if something bad were to happen.
Watch out for your car/bike
Car break ins have been reported as a recent problem within the Sheffield student area, so think about where you park your vehicle. When your car is not in use, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of removing any valuable belongings such as a sat nav or CD player and storing them in a safe place indoors.
Make sure you invest in a good quality lock for your bike and remember to use it. Fix your bike onto something steady and unmovable and keep it in a well-lit, public area. Most bikes are stolen from the owner’s home area, so even if you keep your bike outside in your back garden or in the garage, make sure you keep it secure.
By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be doing everything that can be done to keep yourself and your friends safe both in general and particularly on nights out.