Dorm Room Safety Has Been Overlooked for Far to Long
While living away at college, you must take an interest in your own safety. Although college housing is in general a very safe place to live; there are a handful of safety precautions to consider. These four tips can help.
With nearly 1,500 dorm fires reported in college dorm rooms and sorority and fraternity houses each year, fire is a legitimate safety concern. The most common, non-accidental cause of dormitory fires is cooking in the dorm rooms. Schools prohibit certain cooking appliances; and for good reason. These units are proven safety hazards. Follow the rules and leave the prohibited appliances at home.
When you do cook in your room, be sure to place the appliance far from bedding, curtains, clothing, piles of paper, trash and any other combustible materials. Never leave your cooking unattended and always unplug the appliance when you are finished. Keep the appliance clean at all times, make sure it is in proper working order, and confirm the power cord is UL listed and not frayed or broken.
Smoking and candles also pose a serious fire risk. Be sure to only smoke in designated areas and properly dispose of used cigarettes; many fires are caused by trash cans being used as ash trays. Never light a candle in your dorm room. In the confined space, it will be nearly impossible to place your candle in a safe place away from flammable items. And with the distractions of dorm life, it is all too easy to accidentally leave the candle unattended.
Take fire drills and evacuation procedures seriously. False alarms are notorious in college dorms and although nobody wants to leave a warm bed at 2:00 in the morning, you must assume every alarm is the real thing. Make note of all exits and stairwells in your dormitory. Always have your keys, shoes, and coat nearby so you can leave the room quickly.
When walking alone on campus or in your dormitory, always be aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night. Always have your cell phone in hand with emergency numbers added to your speed dial list. Consider carrying pepper spray with you and have your keys handy. If you must head out on your own, always be sure one of your dorm mates knows where you will be going.
When in your dorm room, never prop open a locked door while waiting on somebody or while you are off visiting a friend’s room. Lock your doors and windows when you are away from your room, when you are sleeping, and when you are alone. When you are away, do not leave messages on your door saying when you will return. Similarly, do not update social networking sites with your whereabouts.
Know your limits with alcohol. Not only will your defenses be down but the concept of safety will be all but lost on you and you may be putting yourself in extremely dangerous situations. If your school offers courses in first-aid, CPR or self defense; consider signing up. You never know when these will come in handy.
While major emergencies on campus are uncommon they are real; preparing the best you can for them is a must. Make sure to participate in any emergency preparedness programs offered by your school and make it a priority to sign up for your campus’ mass notification system.
Notice changes in behavior of fellow students and dorm mates. If you notice the development of threatening tendencies such as talk of violence and other strange behavior, report these immediately. Many campuses have implemented an anonymous reporting policy.
Identity Theft on Campus
Identity theft can be a real concern on college campus and in the dormitories. The same rules about identify theft that you followed at home apply now: shred or otherwise destroy important documents, be smart about your passwords, and approach social networking sites with caution. An additional concern you have now on campus is the accessibility to your laptop computer. Never leave your laptop unattended or allow a friend to take your computer elsewhere. Password protect entry into your computer and store it in an inconspicuous place when you are not in your room.
Colleges and universities do quite well in providing a safe dorm living environment for their students. However, there remains a handful of safety measures for which students must claim personal responsibility, including: fire hazard prevention, personal safety, identity theft protection, and emergency preparedness.
For information about dorm room furniture, visit our dorm desks buying guide.
by: Anna Knightley
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