It would be a luxury if students could just focus on their studies and growing relationships with fellow students and professors while at school. But according to Research.com’s statistics on student crimes, “Among various crimes in college and university campuses, the most common are burglaries (42%), sexual harassment (31%), and motor vehicle thefts (12%).” Due to crimes like these, it seems that students must also concentrate on actively protecting themselves and their property.
If you’re living in a dorm, this task gets even more challenging. Think about it. You’ve got a roommate you don’t know. It’s a relatively small space, so fire and other hazards are common. Someone else was living there before you, so bed bugs and other bacteria may be festering. The list goes on.
Not to worry, though. Protecting yourself and your property while living in a dorm is simple if you take the following actions.
Secure Your Belongings
You don’t bring an entire house’s worth of belongings with you to your dorm. However, you do bring things that are important to you. You also bring things that are vital to your thriving while in college. It’s only right that you secure them.
Always lock your doors and windows when you leave your dorm room or when you’re headed to sleep. If you’re allowed to, amp up security with a small smart video doorbell camera and/or a smart door lock you can enable or disable remotely.
Also, consider getting a small safe for your dorm room to lock up money, jewelry, and other important personal documents. And because your laptop is incredibly valuable, invest in a laptop lock to secure it.
In addition to securing your physical belongings, protect your personal data.
Protect Your Personal Data
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you carry a lot of personal data on your devices. This information is extremely valuable to cyber criminals who need personal information to carry out their crimes.
Don’t make it easy for them to get a hold of yours. Instead, protect your personal data, first, by educating yourself on cybersecurity, cybercrimes, and common scams targeting college students. When you know what to look for, you can actively avoid it.
Then, adopt practices that help you protect your private data. For example, use a virtual private network (VPN) to safely access the internet. Practice good password hygiene. Enable the cybersecurity tools built into your laptop and any software that you use.
Also, securely dispose of any old or non-working electronics. Using a third-party electronic destruction service is incredibly secure and helps to prevent identity theft because you’re completely destroying the device. So, any data that remained after you wiped and encrypted your device will be gone too.
Brush Up on Fire Safety Tips
The National Fire Protection Association revealed that “From 2015-2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties.”
Fires are a real risk when living in dorms. The most common causes of fires are cooking, heating, appliances, electrical systems, lighting, smoking, and intentional fire setting.
If you were hoping to set up a space heater, use a portable cooktop, or have crazy light fixtures and a sea of extension cords to power everything, think again. Your dorm rules have likely already ruled these things out anyway.
Aside from refraining from things that could cause fires, you should also know what to do in the case of one. Know the emergency evacuation plan to follow. Make a note of where the fire extinguishers are. And get yourself out of danger when all else fails.
Inspect Your Dorm Regularly
Who else was so excited to move into their dorm that they didn’t really pay attention to what was going on inside of it before they moved all their stuff in? Although it’s not a huge deal, an initial inspection of your dorm is a great line of defense against things that can harm you and your property.
For example, after looking around the windows and other places where moisture surfaces, you may find that there is mold. After looking over your mattress and sleeping area you may find bed bugs. You might also find traces of other insects and rodents.
Hopefully, you don’t. But these things can absolutely find a home in your dorm room and make you sick over time. Protect yourself by doing an initial inspection of your dorm room and then regular inspections thereafter.
These inspections can double as cleaning days. Regular cleaning is another way to fight off illnesses, mold, insects, and other things you don’t want nesting in your dorm.
Pay Attention to What’s Going On Around You
One of the best protection mechanisms you have in your arsenal is you. The more aware you are of what’s going on around you, the more effective you can be at protecting yourself and your property.
Pay attention to everything that’s going on around you whether you’re at your dorm, in class, at a party, or at a facility on campus. Be especially aware of the following:
- Potential threats
- Who’s at the parties you attend
- Who visits your dorm and what they do
- Which campus security officers are on duty
- Who’s around you when walking to your dorm or car
- What’s going on around you during late-night outings
- Your gut instincts when meeting people or attending events
Awareness and hypervigilance are your friends when protecting yourself and your property while living on campus.
Staying in a dorm seems like one of the most secure living options when going to college. There are always people around, you can rely on campus security officers, and campuses have intentional policies in place to protect students.
Still, these things don’t guarantee your safety. You share the responsibility for protecting yourself and your property while living in a dorm. Use the guidance above to create the most secure dorm living situation possible.