Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Keep yourself safe and help prevent crime.

Learn personal safety tips that apply both on and off campus.

Personal Safety Tips:

  • Know how to contact Public Safety (860.231.5222) or the police (911).
  • Keep the emergency phone numbers near your phones (stickers, magnets, etc.).
  • Program Public Safety's number and emergency phone numbers in your cell phone.
  • Learn where the campus emergency telephones (blue-light telephones) are located and how to use them.
  • Subscribe to the campus alert notification system.

Safety Walking Around Campus:

  • Familiarize yourself with the layout of the campus.
  • Plan the safest route to your destination: choose well-lit, busy pathways and streets.
  • Share your class schedule with your parents and trusted friends and give them your telephone number.
  • At night, stick to well-lit areas whenever possible and avoid alleyways or short-cuts through isolated areas.
  • Travel in groups and avoid going out alone at night.
  • Use the campus escort or shuttle services at night.
  • If you are being followed, change direction and go to the nearest business or home; knock on the door, and request that someone call the police. Note the description of the person following you.
  • Walk near the curb and avoid shrubbery or other places of potential concealment.
  • Tell a friend or roommate where you are going and what time you expect to return.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it; carry your wallet in an inside coat pocket or your front pant pocket.
  • Keep your keys separate from your purse or backpack. Don't overload yourself with bags or packages and avoid wearing shoes that restrict your movements.
  • Walk with a confident stride; keep your head up and look around. If a motorist stops and asks for directions, keep your distance from the car.

Safety in the Residence Halls:

  • Always lock your door and windows, even when you're sleeping or just going down the hall. Do not allow strangers to enter your room or your complex. Do not open your door unless you can identify the person seeking entry.
  • Do not let unknown individuals "tailgate;" ask whom they are visiting and offer to call Public Safety.
  • Do not prop any exterior doors open to allow unescorted visitors into the residence hall (pizza delivery, friends, etc.).
  • Report lost or stolen residence hall keys immediately to your residence hall staff. Report any malfunctioning locks, doors or windows to your residence life staff.
  • Do not leave your keys lying around in your room when you are not in the room. Do not leave messages on your door about when you will be returning to your room.
  • Tell a roommate or friend if you are planning to be away overnight or for a few days.
  • Report any suspicious persons or activities (including solicitors) in or near your residence hall to your residence hall staff, Public Safety or police.
  • Secure your valuables and engrave expensive items with identifying information.
  • Do not leave your identification, keys, wallets, checkbooks, or other valuables in open view.
  • Get to know your RA, residence life staff and neighbors.

Motor-Vehicle Safety:

  • Park in well-lit areas, where your vehicle is visible; avoid parking next to vans or trucks.
  • Keep doors locked and windows shut and keep valuables out of sight; either covered or in the trunk.
  • Service your vehicle regularly to avoid breakdowns.
  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times. Consider "The CLUB" or an alarm system.
  • When leaving your car for service, remove your other keys.
  • Have your key ready when you approach your car. Before getting in, check inside and under your car to make sure no one is hiding.
  • When driving, carry a cell phone.
  • Never let fuel level get below ¼ tank. Drive on well-traveled streets and keep your car in gear while it is stopped. Allow at least one car length space between your car and the car in front of you so that you can escape should someone try to get into your car.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and check your rear view mirror often.
  • If your car breaks down, open the hood and stay inside. If someone stops to help, do not open your window or door, but have him or her call for assistance. Ask uniformed people to show identification.
  • If you do not know the location of your destination, ask someone for specific directions before you leave. If you get lost, do not pull over until you find a well-lit public area, and then call the police. If you suspect you are being followed, drive to a well-lit public area and call the police.
  • Always carry an emergency kit in your vehicle with first aid supplies, flares, flashlight, jumper cables, blanket, etc.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers. Beware of people who yell, honk, and point at your car as if something is wrong. Beware of people who may bump your vehicle from behind; if you think you were bumped intentionally, signal the other person to follow you to the nearest police station.
  • If a person with a weapon confronts you and wants your vehicle, give it up. No car is worth being injured or losing your life.

Road-Rage Safety:

  • Do not take your eyes off the road. Avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver. Stay cool; don't react to provocation. Distance yourself from drivers behaving erratically. Do not make obscene gestures.
  • Use your horn sparingly. Keep to the right except to pass; don't block passing lane. Do not switch lanes without signaling. Avoid blocking the right-hand turn lane.
  • Do not take more than one parking space. If you are not disabled, don't park in a disabled space. Be careful to not allow your door to hit the car parked next to you.
  • Do not tailgate. Avoid unnecessary use of high beam headlights.
  • Do not become distracted by a cell phone, CD players, GPS system, etc. Do not stop in the road to talk with a pedestrian or other driver. Do not expose neighboring cars or others with loud or inappropriate music.
  • Assume other drivers' mistakes are not personal. Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver isn't. Avoid all conflict if possible. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and get out of the way.
  • Lower your stress by allow plenty of time for the trip, listening to soothing music, etc. Understand that you can't control the traffic, only your reaction to it.
  • If you are followed, either drive to the nearest police station or call 911 on your cell phone.
  • Finally, if you are tempted to drive irrationally, ask yourself: "Is it worth being killed? Is it worth going to jail?"

Safe Walking, Jogging or Running:

  • Plan your route in advance and walk/jog/run in familiar areas. Go with a known companion if possible. Carry identification. Don't wear jewelry or carry cash.
  • Avoid secluded or dimly lighted areas. Avoid going after dark. Always face the traffic.
  • If you're being followed, cross the street or change directions; keep looking back and get a good description of the person. If you're still being followed, go to the nearest house or business and call the police.
  • Wear bright colors to improve your visibility. Change your route and schedule. Avoid bushes where a person could hide.
  • Take a key with you; do not leave your house or room unlocked; someone could be watching to see when you are not home.
  • Carry your cell phone, a whistle or shrill alarm to summon help. Do not wear headphones/earphones for an iPod, walkman, etc.

If You are Attacked:

  • Go with you instincts, but be realistic about your ability to fight off someone; your instinct may be to run, scream, kick, hit or bite.
  • If a weapon is displayed, don't resist. Give up your property and save your life. Do what you are told and don't make any sudden moves. Try to remember as many details as possible and alert Public Safety or the police as soon as possible.
  • Your goal should be to escape safety and survive; cooperate if you think that resisting may lead to further harm.
  • Remember every situation is different; you are the only one who can decide the appropriate course of action.
  • Constantly play the "what if" game to think about what you would do in a particular threatening situation. This will help prepare you to respond instinctively when a threat is encountered.
  • After an event, never feel guilty about what you did or did not do.

Bicycle Safety and Protection:

  • Use a bike light when riding a bicycle at night. Wear a helmet at all times when riding a bicycle.
  • Obey all traffic laws; you must stop at intersections; pedestrians have the right of way. Pay attention to your surroundings; warn pedestrians when you are passing them.
  • Take extra care when passing parking lot exits or driving through parking lots. Give proper hand signals when turning or stopping. Before leaving a lane, give a hand signal. Leave the lane only when safe to do so.
  • Secure your bicycle with a heavy duty U-lock or chain. When possible, lock at least your front wheel and frame to a bike rack or other stationary object.
  • Do not park your bicycle in a doorway, on stairs, or blocking any handicapped access. Use a bike rack.
  • Engrave or permanently mark your bicycle with an identifying number and record that number with Public Safety or the police.

Cyber Security:

  • Never give your password to anyone. Change your password frequently. Do not allow others access to your email account.
  • Monitor your access time; by keeping track of when and how long you were on a computer system, it will be obvious if someone has gained access to your account.
  • Be wary of anonymous "re-mailers". Do not put personal information or photos on your web page and do not give personal information that can identify where you live to social networking sites.
  • Never leave your computer/laptop unattended. Engrave markings on your computer.
  • Shop online only with companies that you know; check with the Better Business Bureau if unsure. Use a secure browser that will encrypt or scramble purchase information or pay with a money order or check.
  • Update your virus software regularly, or when new versions are available. Do not download files sent to you by strangers or click on hyperlinks from people you don't know.
  • Make certain that all your personal information is deleted from your computer prior to disposing of it.

Safe Tips for Everyday Living:

  • Take a self-defense course. If female, see if a Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) course is offered.
  • Keep emergency numbers near your phone. Better yet; remember them! Lock all doors and windows every time you leave your room/apartment/home, even if you plan to be gone for just a minute.
  • Keep house and car keys on separate rings. Do not lend your keys to service/maintenance people you do not know well. Always ask service/maintenance people to identify themselves before allowing them to enter your room/apartment/home.
  • Get to know your neighbors so you can help each other.
  • Do not keep large sums of money, jewelry or valuable items in plain view in your room/apartment/home. When out of town, set radios, lights and televisions on timers. If you are living off campus, leave spare keys with trusted neighbors, not under a doormat or in a flower planter.
  • Try to avoid entering elevators occupied by strangers. If you are waiting for an elevator with a stranger, stand away from the door to avoid being pushed inside. Get off on the next floor if you feel uneasy. Hit the alarm button if you are accosted on an elevator.
  • Please report any broken or malfunctioning locks to the facilities department.

Safety on Foot:

  • Avoid dark, vacant or deserted areas; use well-lit routes. Avoid walking/jogging/running alone, especially at night. Ask a friend to go with you. Call Public Safety to accompany you around campus during evening hours.
  • Dress in clothes and shoes that will not hamper movement. Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid wearing headsets that impair your ability to detect and respond to potentially dangerous situations.
  • Report suspicious activity or noises immediately. Carry a noise-making device with you at all times, and use it if you suspect you are in danger. Move to a lit area or building and raise a commotion. Call 911 or activate a blue-light emergency phone in the event of an emergency.
  • If you sense trouble, move away from the potential threat if possible; cross the street and increase your pace. Join a group of people nearby. If a threatening situation is imminent and people are close by, yell, scream or do whatever you can to get their attention.
  • Remember, dialing 911 and/or activating a fire alarm are both part of the personal safety system. 911 calls are free from most pay phones, and blue-light emergency phones are usually located in many areas on campus and simply require a push of a button to notify emergency services of your situation.
  • If you are facing an armed criminal, you may minimize the risk of injury to yourself if you comply with the criminal's demands. However, if your life is in immediate danger, use any defense you can to get away. Dial 911 immediately and give a description of the suspect.

Dealing with Obscene and Annoying Phone Calls:

  • Hang up as soon as you realize the nature of the call. Do not try to find out who the caller is, even if you think it is a friend playing a joke.
  • Use your answering machine to screen calls. You can also record an obscene phone call with the memo feature on some answering machines. If the calls occur frequently, keep a log of exactly when the call was received and what both parties said. Describe the type of voice and note any background noises.
  • Consider changing your phone number and depersonalizing your answering machine message. Consider purchasing a machine that requires an access code before your phone will ring.
  • If the calls continue, contact Public Safety or the police.

Safe Use of Automatic Teller Machines:

  • Try to use ATMs during daylight hours. If you must go at night, do not go alone.
  • Avoid ATMs that are not well lit or clearly visible from the street. Be aware of people loitering or sitting in cars around ATMs.
  • Prepare your transaction ahead of time. Do not spend much time at the machine.
  • Do not give out your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to anyone! Many thieves will attempt to steal your PIN number by calling you on the phone and claiming they are the police, security officers or bank officers. Memorize it and do not keep a written copy of it in your wallet.
  • Either keep your ATM receipt or tear it up and throw it away.

How to Guard Your Personal Information:

  • Ask questions whenever anyone asks you for personal data. How will the information be used? Why must I provide this data?
  • Ask anyone who does require your Social Security number (for instance, cell phone providers) their privacy policy and whether you can arrange for the organization not to share your information with anyone else.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements carefully. Look for unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. If you don't need or use department store or bank-issued credit cards, consider closing the accounts.
  • Keep track of your billing dates/cycles and follow up with creditors if you don't receive bills/statements on time. Use random letters and numbers for passwords; don't use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, your graduation date, your social security number or any other familiar letters or numbers that can be associated with you as passwords.
  • Be aware of how ID thieves can get your information. They get information from businesses or other institutions by stealing records; bribing employees with access to records; hacking into computers; rummaging through trash; posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to the information; stealing credit and debit card numbers as your card is processed by using a special information storage device ("skimming"); stealing wallets and purses containing identification and credit or bank cards; stealing mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks or tax information; or completing a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location.

If Your Identity is Stolen:

  • Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, along with a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.
    • Equifax: To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285 (P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241)
    • Experian: To report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) (P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013)
    • TransUnion: To report fraud: 1-800-680-7289 (Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634)
  • Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security/fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter.
  • If your Social Security number has been used illegally, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
  • File a report with Public Safety or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit-card company, or others need proof of the crime. Keep records of everything involved in your efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.

How to Deal with Con Artists:

  • If a deal sounds too good to be true; it probably is. Be wary of any get-rich-quick scheme that wants you to invest money in advance.
  • Never give out your credit card information over the phone unless you made the call. Do not buy on the spur of the moment; take time to research the company or product.
  • If you are approached by a possible con artist or unauthorized solicitor, report the incident immediately to Public Safety or the police.

Cell Phone Protection:

  • Carry your phone with you whenever possible and make sure it is in a safe place whenever you leave it behind. If you are leaving your phone in your car, be sure it is hidden from view.
  • Turn off your phone when you are not using it. Request a personal identification number. Use the "lock" feature on your phone.
  • Report a stolen cellular telephone immediately to the cellular telephone carrier and police.
  • Check your monthly bills carefully, and report unfamiliar calls to your cellular phone company.
  • Do not give out your electronic serial number or even your phone number to strangers, including callers who represent themselves as technicians testing your line. Keep your subscriber agreement, which includes your electronic serial number, in a secure location.

Dating Safety:

  • Check out a first date or blind date with friends first. Better yet, go with other friends on your first date.
  • Carry money for a taxi or public transportation in case your date is cut short; bring a cell phone also.
  • Know what you want sexually and don't send mixed messages. Trust your instincts about situations to avoid. Be clear and responsible in your communications with others. Be forceful, firm and assertive.
  • If you go out with other friends, don't get separated; watch out for each other. Do not lose self-control or impair your judgment by the use or abuse of alcohol or drugs.
  • "No" means "NO." If someone is unable to give consent, it is called sexual assault or rape. Never be drawn in to a gang rape situation.
  • If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, seek help immediately. Do not feel guilty or try to forget what happened; it is a crime and should be reported. Get medical attention as soon as possible. Do not shower, wash or change clothing; valuable evidence could be destroyed. Seek counseling and support to deal with emotional trauma; Public Safety or the police will be able to assist with determining the best available resources.
  • If you think you've been assaulted while under the influence of an unknown drug (GHB, etc.), seek help immediately. Try not to urinate before providing a urine sample and if possible collect any glasses that you drank from.

Online Dating Safety:

  • Never give personal information to people that you don't know (name, home address, phone number, etc.). If you decide to talk to someone on the phone, don't give out your number; call them and use caller ID block.
  • Use a nickname in chat rooms or message boards. Meet chat friends in public places and with other friends; take a cell phone with you. Never go to someone's room, apartment of house that you just met.

Drink Safely:

  • Not drinking is an option. Intoxication seriously impairs your physical and mental abilities and makes you an easy target for becoming a crime victim.
  • Drinking impairs our ability to make good decisions concerning our safety. Individuals and groups under the influence of alcohol will do many dangerous or illegal things that sober people would never consider.
  • If you drink, don't drive; always have a designated driver.
  • If you have problems when you drink, you are probably a problem drinker. Alcoholism is a disease; if you or someone close to you needs help, contact your Counseling Center, Health Center, Public Safety or police department to determine your best available resource.