5 Important Safety Tips for Students

Calista Freeland, Writer/Editor

  1. Predators often take advantage of your car, a place where you are both vulnerable and distracted. Common techniques include:

reflection, man face, vehicle, rear, view mirror, black, car, view, mirror, rearview mirror | Pxfuel

  • If you see money on your windshield, never touch it. It can be used as a distraction to get you to get out of your car. While focused on the money, you are vulnerable to being attacked or your car being stolen.
  • Always keep an eye out for loitering cars or people. If someone comes up to your car, lock the doors. Use your best judgement to determine whether you should crack the window open. Sometimes, there are cases in which a possible attacker will ask for help with their car or other similar issues. A good response to this in case the person genuinely does need help is to ask if they would like you to call someone for them to come help them such as a friend or their insurance company. This lets them know that you have a phone and while not seeming fearful or overly vulnerable.
  • Check the undersides of your car for tracking devices. With the rise in popularity of Apple AirTags, some have reported finding them in their bags or on their cars to be used to monitor their location.
  • If you are using a ride-sharing app, please check the information regarding the car that is coming to pick you up. Provided is the license plate number, make and model of the car, and identifying information of the person driving.

2.  If you are stranded without cell service, change your voicemail! Even if your phone ideas or you are unable to contact anyone, the voicemail on your phone is still working, meaning that if someone calls you in attempt to find you, they will be able to locate you or send for help.

When Do I Need to Report an Accident in Ohio? | Colombo Law

Change the voicemail on your phone to include your approximate location, time, date, situation (lost, out of gas, injured, etc.), instructions on what you are going to be doing (staying with the car, walking to find help)

3. If you are at a party, check your drinks (even if they aren’t alcoholic) for signs that they may be spiked

USC students, Five Points patrons report being drugged - The Daily Gamecock at University of South Carolina

Signs of a spiked/tampered drink include:

  • Foggy appearence
  • Excessive bubbles
  • Sinking ice
  • Change in color

If you think you or a friend has been spiked, tell an adult or person you trust, make sure that the person affected is being monitored and stay with them (keep them talking), call an ambulance if the symptoms become worse, make sure they have a SAFE ride home, prevent them from drinking more (especially if it is alcoholic or contains excessive caffeine)

Symptoms of being spiked include: fatigue, slurred speech, confusion, headache, vomiting, etc. If you suspect that something is wrong with your drink, don’t drink it! Even if it feels like you are being paranoid, it is better to be safe than sorry. Never leave your drink unattended.

4. Stay off your phone when you don’t need it!

The hidden stress of cell phones - UCHealth Today

When you are distracted by your phone, you are making yourself extremely vulnerable to an attack or kidnapping. We always think that it’ll never happen to us, until it does.

  • While walking, especially alone, stay focused on the path ahead of you. Just a few seconds of looking down at your phone can give predators enough time to take advantage of you.
  • Keep headphones out of your ears, or at least have one headphone removed. This way, you will hear if someone is walking behind you.
  • Never drive and text. While you may feel confident in your driving abilities, looking down at your phone takes away the most important part of driving, visibility. Additionally, even if you are a good driver, being on your phone limits your ability to react to dangerous manuvers made by other drivers.

Yes, you’ve heard this a million times. However, it is an important reminder as accidents involving cell phone distraction are extremely common.

5. Be careful of online predators and scams

4 Characteristics of Online Predators - Exploring your mind

You think you’ve found the perfect guy. You talk to him all day, everyday. His Instagram DMs are the first thing you read in the morning. He asks you to meet at the park. Only problem is, you’ve never met him in person.

It seems obvious that you wouldn’t meet him. However, when you’ve been manipulated, it doesn’t seem that way. Particularly, victims of abuse or those without a stable family life are the most vulnerable. I can’t stop you from talking to people online, and likely, you already are. If you do end up wanting to meet someone in person, here are a few techniques that could save your life:

  • Never go alone, always go with a friend or preferably, an adult
  • Always tell people you trust where you are going. Make sure to share your location with these people.
  • Be sure to call and FaceTime the person before meeting them to verify they are who they say they are.