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August 19, 2009 > Campus security watch-list highlights student safety

Campus security watch-list highlights student safety

By Stephen Sacchetti

There is nothing more important than ensuring that students are safe and sound and ready to tackle the challenges of college life. As a Vice President of Business Development at America's leading physical security services' company, I am often asked for my advice on campus safety issues. The following Campus Security Watch-list offers tips to decrease a student's exposure to risks:

Home is Where the Lock is - Kicking back in the dorm room is an important part of residence hall life for students but an open-door policy should not be. Always lock your door, even if you intend to return shortly or are just going down the hall. Lock all doors and windows when you are sleeping or are alone.

Stranger Danger is Not Just for Tykes - As parents, we warn our little children to be wary of strangers, but the rule still applies to mature college students. Do not allow strangers to enter your dorm room. Call the police if you see a man entering or leaving the women's lavatory and don't stop to ask the individual questions.

Study Smart - There's safety in numbers so avoid working or studying alone in any on-or-off campus building at night. Avoid using stairs in remote locations and be sure to walk back to the residence halls with a study buddy or two.

Have You Seen Your Wallet Lately? -We often make it easy for would-be thieves to strike. Do not leave your purse or wallet unattended and never use your valuables as a way to reserve a table in a library or cafeteria. Keep your purse or wallet with you while on the go and locked in a drawer or cabinet while at home. Keep any money or stamps in a locked drawer. When walking around campus, carry your handbag or purse close to your body with the clasp or flap secured and facing toward you and never leave valuables unattended. Never leave your purse on the floor in a communal restroom or in a locker room.

Report Suspicious Activity - On campus, report suspicious people or situations to the public safety office. Off campus, use the emergency number of the city or town. Immediately give the dispatcher your location and any pertinent information. If possible, stay on the line until help arrives or the dispatcher terminates the call.

Avoid Parking Lot Isolation - Whether on-campus or off-campus, parking in an isolated area rolls out the welcome mat for criminals so park near other vehicles or in high pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas. You can also avoid becoming an easy target for theft by tucking packages and valuables out of sight in your vehicle, and making sure that your windows are closed and doors are locked. Don't hesitate to call a walking escort from campus security to take you to your car.

Prevent Laptop Theft - Prevent the theft of your computer by ensuring that it is locked in your room. Don't load passwords onto the laptop and consider installing a boot-up password so only users with your password can access the hard drive. Never leave your laptop unattended in a public place, even for a moment!

Don't Get too Personal with Social Networking -In today's digital age, where camera cell phones are omnipresent and online postings on Facebook, MySpace and personal blogs are the norm, it is important to understand the significance of creating a permanent cyberspace record. That spring break party you attended could come back to haunt you as you apply for your first job. Today's recruiters regularly search the Internet when reviewing job applicants. Highlighting personal details online - often complete with photos and address information - also presents a security risk that could attract predators.

Be Armed with ATM Attitude - Keep your ATM cards in a safe place and never reveal your PIN number to anyone. Make an effort to only use ATMs located in the bank or at reputable stores. ATMs which are located outside or seem to be odd locations are often dummy machines set up by identity thieves to steal PIN information. Never loan your ATM card to anyone, no matter who they are. When possible, use your ATM card during the day. If you must use the machine at night, go to an indoor, or otherwise, well-lit machine.

Fire Safety 101 - Parents and student should be armed with information on fire prevention and become familiar with the fire safety program and protection features of the buildings they will occupy. Most residence life policies prohibit the use of candles, space heaters, halogen lamps and bulbs; open heating elements and unapproved cooking appliances. For more information on campus fire safety, visit The National Fire Protection Association which offers tips to help reduce and prevent the loss of life and property in dormitory and university housing fires at: http://www.nfpa.org.

No matter what college is selected, campus safety crime prevention always starts with the individual student. Every student needs to be armed with the information necessary to make safer choices each and every day. Being aware of your surroundings, using assertive body language, keeping doors locked and using the buddy system will help students feel safer and may deter an attacker.

About the Author:

Steve Sacchetti is Vice President of Business Development for AlliedBarton Security Services. Established in 1957, AlliedBarton Security Services is the largest American-owned security officer services company. He can be reached at: Stephen.Sacchetti@alliedbarton.com.

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