Summer. It’s a season of fun, but it’s also a time of preparation for any student getting ready to head off to college. This week, we’re so lucky to have Kathleen Baty, safety expert and author of College Safety 101 as a guest blogger. The book is a comprehensive guide to staying safe and smart on campus, and Kathleen is offering 10 fantastic tips to stay safe this summer here on the blog today.
If you are a graduating senior, there is so much to celebrate this summer: the accomplishment of finishing high school, the anticipation of entering college, and the freedom of leaving the nest! Many students celebrate by throwing parties, organizing a group trip to a fun beach destination, or even a backpack tour around Europe with a group of friends. To make sure that your summer celebrations create nothing more than wonderful memories, be sure to follow a few Safety Tips from the Safety Chick.
1. Make sure your Intuition Antenna is UP… Getting from Point A to Point B is when we are all most vulnerable. Make sure to be aware of your surroundings and do not be distracted as you get to your party destination. DO NOT text and drive, NEVER drink and drive, and always make sure you have complete directions for where you are going. Know the safest route to get there and back home safely.
2. Watch it Party Girl… Date Rape drugs are very real, and hundreds of women fall victim to drugging every year. GHB, one of the most common of the drugs, is clear, odorless, and tasteless, making it very hard to detect if it is dropped in your drink. Always keep your drink in front of you where you can see it. Never leave your drink unattended, never drink from an open punch bowl, and never accept a drink from someone if you did not watch it being made. Opt for a beverage that is sealed that you can open yourself and, finally, when in doubt, pour it out.
3. Always have your Buddy’s Back… Remember, safety in numbers! Criminals look for young women alone, and usually at night. Make a plan with your friends BEFORE you leave the house that you all plan on going to the party together—and getting home together. Partner up to stay safe when you are travelling together as well. If you see a young woman who has had too much to drink, make sure she gets home safely. That’s the Code of the Safety Chick sisterhood.
4. Road Trip… If you and your friends decide to hit the open road for a weekend adventure, make sure to have your car checked out by a mechanic before you leave. Keep an Emergency Road Kit in your car complete with jumper cables, flares, first aid kit, flashlight, rain poncho, blankets and gloves. Don’t forget your roadside assistance card and contact number. A good GPS device either in your car or on your cell phone is great, and be sure to map out your route before you go. Don’t take any shortcuts if you are not absolutely positive where you are going… getting lost in the middle of the desert in 100 degree heat is NO FUN and extremely dangerous!
5. Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn… While most students are on budgets and staying at a cheap motel is tempting, it is not always the safest choice. Most motels do not offer the same security measures that a large hotel chain would. Pool your money with friends and double up in the rooms so you can opt to stay at a reputable hotel. Pick a room by the elevator or highly trafficked area, not by a stairwell or way down a hallway in a corner where criminals can hide or flee quickly. Also, make sure to never open your door to a stranger. If you did not order room service, call the front desk and ask if they sent someone to your room. If not, ask for security to come up and make a report.
6. Give them a Sign… When you leave your room, hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door. Make arrangements with housekeeping to have the room straightened when you are there. Any thief casing the hallway for unattended rooms will assume yours is occupied.
7. Don’t leave the Details… If you brought magazines/reading materials from home, rip off the mailing address before you go. That way, when you’re relaxing by the pool you don’t have to worry about your personal information falling into the hands of a stranger. Your name and home address should be kept private!
8. Going Abroad… Always check with the Department of State BEFORE you leave to find out if there are any current travel warnings in the country you will be visiting. Be sure to register with the American Consulate when you arrive.
9. Copy Everything… Make sure you have copies of all your important documents i.e. your passport, itinerary, emergency numbers and insurance cards. Leave a copy with your parents and a copy in the hotel safe, that way if anything gets stolen you will have all your information easily accessible making it easier to replace anything that you have lost.
10. Check in Often… Even though you are having the time of your life, and home is a distant memory (for the time being), it is very important to check in with your family a couple of times a day. Set up a time to talk or Skype each day so that your loved ones know where you are. Leave a detailed itinerary with contact numbers of hotels/hostels and any other important information they might need to get a hold of you. If something were to happen and you needed help, time is of the essence and being able to track your last whereabouts is vital.
Do you know a grad (or the parent of a student) that would benefit from the expert advice in College Safety 101? Leave a comment on this post—we’ll give away a copy of the book to a randomly selected commenter. We wish you a season of safe summer fun!