How to Find a Roommate: The Safe Way

Folks, I’m originally from a small town in western Montana. There, everyone knows everyone. If you need a roommate you simply tell a friend you need a roommate and within a week or so someone you know (or at least vaguely know) gets in contact with you saying their up for the roomie job. And forget about having to research anyone, you just ask your mutual friends how tough they are to live with. Bam: new roommate.

Most places are a bit different, especially in a new college town. You don’t know anyone, and if you’re planning on living off-campus (which I admit is can be a huge money saver), your roommate search might prove some interesting results. Here’s how to make sure you end up with a good one.

1.) Create a wish list. Before you even start looking you need to get an idea of what you’re looking for. Do you prefer a male or female roommate? Is there a certain age you feel comfortable with? A young college student might be up for partying every night of the week, while a 60 year old woman might prefer you to keep the television on mute after 4:00 in the evening. Are you (or your landlord) okay with pets? Think about these things before beginning your search.

2.) Look everywhere. There are countless places to look for potential roommates, so don’t limit yourself. Want ads in the newspaper, Craigslist, or even places you hang out. Spread the word around your local watering hole that you’ve got an extra room opening up. You also should post an ad (either in the paper, on Craigslist or on flyer’s around the city, whatever you can afford). In it, emphasize the good qualities of your apartment. So what if it’s tiny, does it have hardwood floors? Is it close to the university? Some great pictures (of your well-lit, clean apartment) should be included as well.

3.) Narrow down the responses. Chances are, unless you live in a dungeon (and even if you live in a dungeon), you’re going to get a decent number of responses. Go through and find the ones you think would make a realistic roommate and make a list. Then call them, and talk with them on the phone to narrow down the list further. After that, arrange to meet them in person, in a public place. After your in-person meetings you should have a handful of people that get to see the apartment (not after step 4 though).

4.) Research them. This may seem a little judgmental, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Google your potential roommate…thoroughly. Check their Facebook page twitter account. What are they posting about? What are their friends posting about? How do they spend their free time? Do they air out their dirty laundry on Facebook or are they respectful of people they know?

5.) Get your deposit. After you’ve found a good match and they agree to live with you, get your deposit. They might not work out, and you can always refund them if they move out, but you need to make sure you’re not stuck with the bill if they decide to do some impromptu remodeling.

6.) Be wary. No matter how much you’ve researched them, your new roommate still might not be a great match. So keep your valuables locked up and stored in a safe place until you really get to know the person you’re now living with.

College Crime You Need to Look Out For

Regardless of how much you see in the news, college campuses are decently safe places. That doesn’t mean crime doesn’t happen though, and in order to be prepared you need to know what you’re up against.

What’s more, you need to know the more popular offenses that are on the rise. So we’ve made it easy for you!

1.) Property Damage. Most recent data suggests that over 80% of campus crimes involve property of some kind (that includes theft). And as expensive as typical college costs are (tuition, books, dorm room, food, etc.) having to replace a laptop (which also has 36 completed pages of your senior thesis) can really hurt. That’s why it’s important to protect your property. A laptop safe, for example, will ensure that your laptop stays exactly where you left it. Various locks and dorm safes are also great ways to make sure your valuables don’t end up damaged or stolen.

2.) Identity Theft. While theft tends to be most common campus crime, identity theft has been on the rise. And it’s no surprise; after all, colleges typically require quite a bit of personal information for a number of things. Requesting transcripts, signing up for internships, changing your class schedule and signing up for a dorm room often require multiple forms of identification. So while it’s perfectly understandable to have things like your driver’s license, birth certificate and social security card in your dorm room, it would be stupid to leave all those things out in the open! A dorm safe is a perfect tool for storing these items. In addition, various computer securities will keep crooks from looking up all of your information on your computer, like login information and passwords.

3.) Violent crimes. Even though severe violent crimes make up an exceptionally low percentage of overall university crime (usually around 2% of the total crime), the occurrences are on the upswing, which means you should prepare yourself for the worst. A small bottle of pepper spray, for example, is always a great tool to carry. Plus, with advances in technology other forms of protection are coming out on the market. The most recent is the iWitness smartphone service that allows you to take a video of anyone making you nervous. Essentially, it gives you what criminals fear most: a witness.

Another way to protect yourself from violent crimes is to be aware of the situation and know the warning signs. If you’re at a party and someone is drunk and gradually getting more and more escalated, leave the party! If your date is getting pushy about wanting to come inside with you, slam the door in their face! You know what something feels “off”, and trusting that instinct is always your best bet!

Dating in College

Sure, sure, we’ve probably done an article on this subject before, but there are three facts of life that we just can’t ignore: 1.) You may not have read that first article, 2.) You may not have been dating before and therefore ignored our first article, and 3.) The dating world is constantly changing with new risks to be careful of. Plus, school is coming up just around the corner (yours may have already started, actually), and nothing adds to the excitement of your first day of school like the cute boy/girl across the hall. So here you go, college students of the world, your university dating safety guide:

1.) Be careful how much you share beforehand. Today’s age is the world of social media…and also the world of oversharing. Posting every detail about your date, your intentions, your excitement etc. on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, whatever, is not only dangerous but downright rude! Leave a little mystery about yourself and protect your safety at the same time.

2.) Tell a friend your plans. This is different than posting your plans all over Facebook. Tell your trusty roommate where you planning on going, what time and if there may be more (dinner at The Spicy Dragon at 5:30, The Dark Knight Rises at 7:00, maybe ice cream afterwards, will text after the movie to check in and update schedule). And calm down, you don’t have to do this every time, just until you guys get to know each other. In the beginning though, it’s important. If something goes wrong and you go missing (hey, it could happen), this will make it much easier to trace your footsteps and figure out where you might be.

3.) Go somewhere public. No, you are not going over to his house for dinner on a first date, that’s just asking for trouble. Go out to dinner, or to a ballgame, or a park or something along those lines. In addition, make sure you drive yourself there, meaning you aren’t depending on them for a ride and they aren’t going to know where you live if the date goes bad.

4.) Be careful with alcohol. It’s no secret that alcohol impairs judgment, so keep that in mind before you order your third glass of wine. In addition, make sure you keep an eye on your drink. If your date is someone you’ve just met, you want to make sure there’s no chance that they can slip you something.

5.) Always feel free to say “no”. You are perfectly allowed to say “no” at any time for any reason. You don’t want to have some ice cream after the movie? Then don’t! You don’t have to give a reason, and it doesn’t matter if the other person reallllllly wants you to.

6.) Trust your gut. If you have an uneasy feeling about something, don’t do it! The reason you have a strange feeling is because you’re subconsciously picking up on cues that you haven’t identified yet. If something inside is telling you it’s a bad idea, it’s probably a bad idea.

7.) Carry some form of protection. Whether it’s pepper spray or your iWitness smartphone service, you need to have some form of protecting yourself should you be in a compromised situation.

www.secureoncampus.com

Dorm Safety Essentials

It’s getting to be that time of year: you’ve probably been thinking about what you need to take with you to college, but you’re not going to pack until maybe the day before. You’ll use the excuse “I need to pack” to get out of virtually every uncomfortable situation (dinner with your grandparents), but let’s be honest; your room isn’t any more packed than it was 2 weeks ago.

So before you really get started, let’s go over what you need to bring with you; as far as safety goes. Pack these essentials first then use your spare suitcases to pack everything else.

1.) Locks. Theft is far and above the #1 reported incident on college campuses. Between things in your dorm, things in your car and things in your backpack, you’ve probably got a lot of expensive stuff lying around. And with locks being incredible affordable and practical, there’s really no reason not to own one. We’d recommend putting one on your closet (once you get to know you’re roommie you can remove it, but in the beginning you may wonder where the hell all your clothes have started disappearing too), on your dorm storage trunk (or any dorm trunk, for that matter), on your backpack and on your glove compartment in your car, if you can.

2.) Safes. Just like locks are important, so are safes. If you can’t afford a regular safe for the majority of your stuff (student ID, birth certificate, etc.), at least spring for a laptop safe. Our most basic model holds laptops up to 17 inches, is fire insulated, has double steel walls and can be secured to anything non-mobile with a 48-inch cable. You paid a lot of money for that laptop, don’t let some jackass get it for free.

3.) Fire Extinguishers. It may seem silly (your dorm has one, every building has one), but let’s be realistic. You start a fire in your room (yes, it happens), are you going to have time to pull up the dorm map and figure out where the hell the fire extinguisher is? Probably not. Just go to your room and get the one you brought with you. Better safe than sorry.

4.) Pepper Spray. Pepper spray comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes now, so you don’t have to look like a paranoid freshman with a giant canister of pepper spray attached to their belt loop. And even if you think you’ll never need it (we hope you’ll never need it), it’s better to have it just in case.

5.) Your iWitness App. This isn’t going to take up storage room but it’s just as important. We’d recommend downloading the service long before you get to college so if the time ever comes to use it you won’t be fumbling with your phone.

Introducing the iWitness Self Protection Smartphone Service!

What’s the problem with carrying a weapon, anyone? Let’s go through the pros and cons:

Pros:

– You can use it to protect yourself

Cons:

– You often need a permit to carry one

– If it’s taken from you in a struggle the attacker can use it against you

– It isn’t safe for small children to carry

– You can’t carry it in certain public places, such as on an airplane or in a classroom

– If you panic while in control of it, someone may be hurt unintentionally (such as a bystander)

– You may be seen as a threat (someone shoots you because they notice you’re carrying a knife)

Plus, believe it or not, a weapon is nowhere near the greatest deterrent of crime. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you won’t be attacked.

In fact, according to a 2010 study by Valerie Wright, Ph.D. titled Deterrence in Criminal Justice; Evaluating Certainty vs Severity of Punishment, it’s not the severity of punishment that criminals fear, it’s the certainty of punishment. Meaning it doesn’t matter what the punishment is if you get away with it.

So what’s the #1 deterrent? Witnesses. It’s the reason no one is nervous about going to the park in broad daylight and why it’s always recommended to meet a first date in a public place. Not only are people there to see an incident should one take place, but there are cameras as well. But you’re not always able to be in a public place, surrounded by people, in broad daylight. Sometimes you need to get to the library at 10:00 at night to pull an all-nighter. Sometimes you get home late and have to walk the distance from your car to your dorm alone, in the dark. What do you do then?

That’s where the iWitness smartphone service comes in. Plus, it literally solves all of the issues listed above for a method of self-defense. It’s safe to carry in public places, it’s safe for children to use, a criminal can’t turn it against you, no one else will get hurt accidently while you use it and you don’t need a permit to carry your cellphone. So what is it, exactly?

Basically, it’s a smartphone app that sends video and audio recordings of the event to a secured server (meaning if they break your phone the evidence is still safe), while automatically dialing 9-1-1, tracking your location and emitting flashing lights and an audio alarm.

With just a push of a button, you’ve got criminals’ worst fear staring them in the face; the fear that they’ll get caught. Even if they have a weapon, using it will be their downfall, whereas if they have a gun and you have a gun, all they have to do is know how to use theirs better. Arm the app at the first sign of danger and you’ll never be alone again.

And what does this service cost? Only $2.50 a month (or $29.99 a year), which is hardly anything compared to the peace of mind it provides.

http://www.secureoncampus.com

Here’s a video to help explain things:

Would any of you get some use out of this service?

What to Do If Someone Starts Following You

Every once in a while you’ve got to walk somewhere alone through generally considered “unsafe” territory. Maybe it’s on your way home late from a library cram session and the shuttles have stopped running, you can’t get ahold of your roommate and you have no vehicle of your own. Yup, you’re probably going to make the sketchy walk from the library to your dorm. We get it; we’ve been there.

So what happens if you’re being followed? Well hopefully you have the new iWitness phone app, for one, but if you don’t here are some basic tips to keeping yourself safe with a stranger on your trail:

1.) Stay calm. Panicking is only going to cloud your thoughts. Besides, how do you know they just don’t happen to be walking to a similar area as you are? Slow your breathing and try to clear your head.

2.) Find other people. Do you see any businesses nearby with people in them (a bar, a coffee shop, or even a warehouse with night shift workers)? Do you know of a friend that lives nearby or a party that might be going on just a block down the street? If so, you might want to take a quick detour, at least for a few minutes.

3.) Don’t stop. If you think you’re being followed, the worst thing you can do is stop and let them catch up. Keep walking at a brisk pace until you get more details about the situation.

4.) Have your cell phone ready. Arm your iWitness app, call a cab or anyone that can come help you. Just be sure you keep moving.

5.) Run. Just have an idea of where you are running to. Running straight into a dark, dead end alley isn’t going to help your cause at all. On the other hand, if you see a spot a block away with people, run there, don’t walk. Your follower may see the people too and understand the time they have to make a move are limited.

6.) Yell. No criminal prefers to attack a screaming victim; it draws more attention to the scene. And don’t let the fear of embarrassment stop you; would you rather be an idiot or a dead idiot?

7.) Get as many details as possible. Don’t stop to turn around and see your follower, but if it’s possible to get some details make a mental note of it. Is it a male or female? How tall do they seem to be? Are they following you on foot or in a car? If it’s in a car, can you get a license plate number?

8.) Look for a weapon. This is listed last for a reason; weapons are only useful if you know how to use them and if they won’t be taken away from you and used against you. A metal pipe might only be handy for a second, so you’d better be ready to get your blows in. Just make sure you’re not stopping to look around for something. Just grab it and go.

For safety devices, like pepper spray, alarms, or the iWitness Smartphone Service, don’t forget to check out www.secureoncampus.com

What’s the Best Method of Self-Defense? Stopping Crime Before it Starts

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” And while that does ring true (as well all know, there is an app for virtually everything), the area of self-defense has been surprisingly silent. Well not anymore!

Introducing the iWitness Self Protection Smartphone Service! Never again will you have to feel completely alone walking across campus in the middle of the night (we’re going to skip the lecture and just assume you had no other option). So how exactly does it work?

Well first of all, it’s best to keep the app among your favorites for easy access. After you open the app, press the “ARM IWITNESS” button. This should be done at the first hint of danger (if you notice you’re being followed, or if it’s just really dark and you’ve got an “uneasy” feeling about something).

 

As soon as you press the “ARM IWITNESS” button, your phone is armed. It’s ready to take audio and video recordings as soon as you tap the screen. This is called “Capture Mode.”

The entire time your phone is in “Capture Mode” tapping the screen will automatically call 9-1-1. There is a 5-second delay (in case this was a mistake and you don’t wish to call 9-1-1), during which you are allowed to cancel the call. Otherwise, help will automatically be summoned. Plus, if an attacker should knock the phone from your hand, the movement will also trigger an automatic 9-1-1 call.

Plus, anything you record is automatically being sent to a secure server, so if even if your phone is broken or thrown in a river the evidence is still safe. There’s simply no way around it; whoever chooses to harm you will absolutely be caught, and that’s a lot of incentive for a criminal to find another victim.

The cost for this service is simply $29.99 a year (or roughly $2.50 a month), which is really nothing compared to the peace of mind it provides.

http://www.secureoncampus.com

What do you guys think; will the iWitness App help to make college campuses a safer place?