Keeping Important Documents Safe During a Mishap

When you think of winter you probably think of snow angels, hot chocolate and Christmas break. However, winter is also well-known for other things, like icy roads, freezing temperatures and burst pipes. Plus, the holiday season makes it notoriously difficult to get ahold of people that need to fix your burst pipes or broken windows during the winter.

Now here’s the tough part: how do you make sure your important documents are safe no matter what? Sure, you’d like to think that nothing is going to happen, but if a pipe bursts in your dorm bathroom while you’re home visiting your parents how do you know everything is safe when water starts to fill the room? And how do you know everything is safe when workers come in to repair everything?

Well first of all, you need to identify all your important paperwork. There are a lot of things you may not think of as important, but if someone else got their hands on them they could sure do a lot of damage. Here is a quick list of things you should gather up:

            – Bank account information

– Student account information (pin numbers, id cards, etc.)

– Credit card information

– Medical and immunization records

– Insurance policies and information (including student health and car insurance)

– Any tax/investment information (including financial aid items)

– Birth/Marriage certificates

– Auto registration

– Citizenship papers and passports

– Social security card

– Contact information for important people

Now granted you are probably not going to have some of things anyway (who the hell has a copy of their immunization records?), but if you do have these papers gather them up in the same group.

Step 2 is to make sure all your important documents are gathered and kept in a secure location. Many of our dorm safes, for example, are waterproof, fireproof, and even come with double steel walls and cables capable of handling up to 650 pounds of pressure. That means they are incredibly difficult to steel or break into, and in case of a natural disaster they’ll stay sealed, keeping everything inside protected.

Of course your best bet would be to have two locations with copies of the information, in case something happens in one location that makes it impossible to access this paperwork. One safe could be in your dorm, another could be at your parents’ house. That would sure make things easier when they are filling out school related forms.

In addition, it might also be a good idea to keep computer files in your dorm safe too. Think of that 40 page senior thesis you’ve been working on…would you have a backup if your computer got stolen? What if a fire ripped through your dorm room, destroying your computer and your backup you had on your USB? Copy your report on a USB and put it in your safe. That way, even if you emailed it to yourself (trust me, I’ve been there when it won’t download correctly) you’re still in good hands.

For more dorm safety equipment don’t forget to check out our website at www.secureoncampus.com!

Christmas Light Etiquette: How to Be a Good Neighbor

Just last night I was looking out of my living room window and I saw something: a tiny little flicker of blue, red and green. Christmas lights have officially landed on my street. Of course, I also just felt like writing a more upbeat post. After all, student safety can be such a serious topic…

Personally, I love the first sighting of Christmas lights. My boyfriend, however, not so much. And as much as I’d rather live in the dream world where Christmas lights are always a thing to be welcomed, he does have a point: sometimes, they are just downright annoying.

Now as a college student, there are few things as exciting as Christmas lights, and there are even fewer things less exciting then decorating your own place. However, how exactly do you make sure your Christmas lights are those that are celebrated instead of condemned? Follow these rules to make sure your neighbors won’t feel the urge to burn your little dorm room to the ground during the next month and a half.

1.) Wait until the day after Thanksgiving. This is a touchy rule, but just follow it. As someone with a Master’s degree in Behavioral Psychology, I still can’t believe there isn’t a term for an individual that flies into rage over the sight of one holiday’s decorations before the previous holiday has passed. I even find myself going into a slight rage when I see Christmas decorations in the stores before Halloween has arrived. I can’t explain it; I just know it makes my blood boil. Wait until after Thanksgiving.

2.) Cut the sound effects after a reasonable hour. Holiday lights set to sound have become all the rage in the past few years, and if you’re jumping on the bandwagon good for you (I’ll be driving through your neighborhood soon to see your handiwork!), but hearing the same four Christmas songs over and over and over and over again for hours on end is sure to send your neighbors off the deep end. Plus, many dorms have noise rules that you just flat out have to follow, so just follow them.

3.) Understand other floor plans. If there is a bedroom is facing one side of your house (or condo or dorm or tent or whatever) they’d probably appreciate it if you didn’t put lights up on that part of the house. This is especially applicable if your lights are flashing or blinking. You know how annoying it is to have a cop cars lights flashing into your bedroom at 2:00 in the morning? Well imagine that…for the next 45 days.

4.) Ask if they have any special concerns. Just asking is usually enough to smooth over any potential rough spots in your neighborly relationship. And if they ask that you shut the lights off after 9:00, you will be able to negotiate for 9:30 without seeming like a jackass.

5.) Safety first. If you are planning on placing a giant, blow-up Santa Claus in the front yard, you need to make sure it’s not a hazard of any kind. Make sure it’s not blocking anyone’s view as they are backing out of their driveway or trying to turn the corner around your house. No one will appreciate your decorations if they keep resulting in a three-car pileup. Of course if they’re just too interesting to not stop staring…bravo.

Bullying: It’s Not Just for Grade School Anymore

Now you may be laughing to yourself right now, after all I am doing an entire post on bullying…in college. But it’s more of an issue than you might think. Actually, it might be right up your alley. Turns out bullying in college (or the workplace, or the home, or anywhere, as a matter of fact) is just as common as bullying in grade school or high school. Where there is something somebody wants, there is usually a bully lurking in the corner.

So what exactly does a bully look like in college? Well, the same as it looks anywhere else. Some are outgoing and aggressive, and may even use force to get what they want. Others are smooth-talking and manipulating (Sound familiar? Like your ex-roommate, perhaps?) and relish the simple joys of making you do things you don’t want to do. So how do you get the monkey off your back? Read on.

1.) Walk away. Yes, I know that it sounds simple, and at times it may seem that walking away would only instigate things and make them worse, but it’s quite the contrary. Bullies aren’t angry at you to begin with, they simply want a reaction. Take away their reaction and they’ll quickly lose interest.

2.) Tell someone. Just as the same is true for a child in 2nd grade, the same is true of a 21 year old college student and a 35 year old office employee. Bullies operate in secret. Bringing their behavior to the forefront makes it clear to them that they are not, in fact, invisible and what they are doing is not acceptable.

3.) Have a support system. It’s very common for someone not to be able to stand up to their bully, but it’s much easier to do when they’re with a large group of friends. First of all, your friends usually recognize when you’re uncomfortable with something and will often stick up for you if you can’t find the words. Second of all, a bully doesn’t want to take on a group of people, they’d rather deal with you one-on-one.

4.) Protect yourself. When worst comes to worst, you need to be able to protect yourself. That means having the campus security on speed dial as well as having an array of personal safety items on you at all times. These could range from pepper spray to a personal alarm to the iWitness iPhone app. All of these are great ways to make a bully stand down before anything gets out of control. And if you ever feel you might need to use one of these items, you sure as hell had better be reporting the issue to campus security ASAP.

And don’t forget to check out our store (www.secureoncampus.com) for even more personal safety items, like dorm safes, laptop locks and even personal emergency kits. You can never be too careful!

When You DO Need to Get Involved

There are times and situations when you just need to keep to yourself and not get involved. However, there are also other circumstances that make it necessary for you to stop whatever you’re doing and help out. These are some of these times:

1.) When someone is in danger. Now let me be very clear here, this does not mean that it’s appropriate to put yourself in danger, it just means that something needs to be done. If your friend is in a violent and dangerous relationship, for example, it’s not recommended that you march over to their house and give their significant other a taste of their own medicine (as much as we all would probably love to do that). Instead, you need to have a serious talk with your friend about what is happening behind closed doors. Naturally, this can be an incredibly difficult thing to talk about, so don’t pressure them for information. Simply let them know that you are there for them and then keep an eye out for suspicious behavior.

2.) Someone can’t take care of themselves. Let’s say you’re walking down the street and you see someone so drunk they’re stumbling in and out of traffic. Now of course it’s not your job to go get them, prop them up, take them home and nurse them back to health, but it is your job (as it is everyone’s job) to do something. Simply calling the cops and explaining the situation (you can even do it anonymously) is enough.

3.) When you’re unsure. This one can be debated, but I’d rather fall back on the “it’s better to be safe than sorry” mantra. For example, a few years ago there was an older woman who lived a few houses up from me. I knew her because my cat often went missing, and I always ended up knocking on her door asking if she’d seen him. One day, while out for a run, I noticed a man in his mid-40’s forcing himself into the house. I went and knocked on the door and no one answered, but I heard someone moving around inside. I called the cops and soon they were there talking to the man. Apparently she was out of town and this was her son, and she had forgotten to leave a key so he could get into her house. When she came back into town (and her son had left) she came over and thanked me for checking on her. Moral of the story: she was perfectly fine, but under different circumstances her life could’ve been in serious danger, and she truly appreciated that at least someone was looking out for her.

4.) When you’re the only one that knows anything. Many bad deeds happen in secret and behind closed doors and if no one knows what is going on things will continue the way they are. If you witness something that is wrong (a professor being inappropriate, a roommate blackmailing another roommate, etc.) speak up! Failing to do so does not keep you on the side of neutrality, it puts you on the side of the offender.

And once again, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com for plenty of personal safety equipment like pepper spray, personal alarms, dorm room safes and more!

3 New Safety Concerns for College Students in Winter

Well folks, November has finally come around, which means the snow and cold won’t be far behind (if it hasn’t hit some spots already), and with plenty of snow and cold comes a whole new batch of safety concerns. So read on, take notes, and be safe this winter!

1.) Cold related sicknesses. Sure, it seems like no big deal (after all, what’s a little cold every now and then?), but we’re talking more about something like hypothermia. Every year, I hear about some college student getting drunk at a holiday party, trying to walk home (or just walk to across the street) and then never quite making it and freezing to death in the bushes outside their house. It’s colder than you think out there, and you need to be smart. Not that walking around town drunk was ever a good idea, but keep a little closer eye on your friends this year.

And if you do lose your friend, find their phone. I recently just installed a “lost phone” app (called Find iPhone) on mine and my boyfriend’s phone. If he can’t find his phone, I use the app on mine and it makes his phone beep while showing me exactly where it is on a GPS map. So see, it’s convenient if you can’t find your phone, or if you can’t find the person that is probably with the phone.

2.) Car dawdling. This time of the year is a jackpot for predators looking to jump an innocent victim on their way to their car. Not only do people generally take longer to get into their car (clearing the snow off of the door handle, scraping ice off the windshield), but it also takes people longer to leave. They sit in the car until it warms up a bit. They text while their windshield thaws. Don’t do that! Your best idea would be to install an electric starter that you can use from inside. Your vehicle remains locked, but it’s warming up without you inside it. That way you unlock it, put the key in the ignition and leave.

And if you can’t install an automatic starter (I know, my car is too old for this kind of luxury), please be smarter about how you prepare yourself. Have someone out there with you to help you clear off the snow or ice. Do their car at the same time while you’re out there. Start your car, go back inside and watch from a window inside, and carry some pepper spray or a personal alarm on your keychain just in case anything does happen.

3.) Less awareness. Walking somewhere in the winter time gives a whole new set of challenges. Very often you don’t have the best footing (walking on partially frozen sidewalks), you can’t hear much between the hat covering your ears and the wind whipping by, and you probably aren’t focused on your surroundings; you’re focused on staying warm. Personally, I’m guilty of this all the time; I put my hands in my pockets, look straight down and walk as fast as I can in the general direction of my destination.

This is stupid: very, very stupid. Predators know how to spot an easy target from a mile away, and someone with their hands in their pockets that isn’t even looking 10 feet in front of them is definitely an easy target. Plus, it’s cold out. A predator might wait all night for the perfect victim on a warm summer’s eve, but in 10 degree weather in the middle of winter? They’re going to take the first bait that comes along. So don’t be an easy target. Better yet, get a ride.  

And don’t forget to check out our store full of college safety equipment at www.secureoncampus.com!

Do you have any additional winter safety tips?