Safety Tips in a New Town

Moving, while stressful, can actually be pretty excited. It’s almost like a clean slate, in a way. But while moving may be quite exciting (all the new restaurants to try and activities to do), it can also be a bit dangerous if you don’t know your way around. Maybe there is a certain part of town that you just shouldn’t be wandering around at night, or maybe this city is actually serious when they say an evacuation is in order. Either way, here are a few tips to keeping yourself safe in a new, unfamiliar city:

1.) Do your research. Even if you just do a simple Google search, something is bound to come up. Better yet though, contact the local police department before your arrival. They will be able to tell you where to look to find local crime statistics and even possibly spots to avoid (such as their highest areas of theft or assault). If you are going to a city with a gang problem, it might also be necessary to be aware of the colors you wear in certain neighborhoods.

2.) Be smart with your exploring. Love to explore? I completely understand. Exploring needs to be done in a smart manner, though; if you want to visit the local parks, do so during the day when there are plenty of people around. Central Park, for example, is a fantastic place to get to know, but you should definitely be visiting it during the day.

3.) Don’t make it obvious that you’re new in town. Snatchers tend to prey on those that are clearly unfamiliar with their surroundings. So keep your guidebooks and camera a little out of sight. You don’t want to be standing in the middle of nowhere looking completely lost and vulnerable.

4.) Leave the valuables at home. There is no reason for you to be walking around with your passport or social security card, so leave those things at home. Carry only absolute essentials, like your debit card and ID. If you need cash you can use an ATM, and if these things get stolen they are fairly easy to replace.

5.) Explore with a friend. Getting lost in a new city can be fun, for a while, but it can quickly turn scary if you end up in a poor location or can’t find your way back. If possible, explore with a buddy before you head out on your own. This will allow you to get your bearings straight before you try it for the first time.

6.) Use common sense. If you get an uneasy feeling about a particular location, leave. If the guy sitting across from you on the bus is freaking you out, change seats. There is nothing wrong with trusting your guy, especially in an unfamiliar location.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

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Questions Parents Should Ask Campus Police

When a student is trying to choose a university or college for the next four years, the efficiency of the campus security is probably the last thing on their mind. Other factors, like the academic and athletic program, price and distance from family and friends will probably be closer to the front of their mind. So here’s where the parents can come in. Wait until your son or daughter has narrowed down their top choice in schools to two or three and then ask each school these 5 questions:

1.) What qualifications to your campus security officers have? Many campus security officers have to go through similar training to that of an actual policeman, but other schools simply make them go through an 8-hour course, hand them a Taser and call it a day. You’ll want to make sure the people responding to possible threats actually know what they’re doing, compared to just a scared kid on a work-study program.

2.) Are background checks performed before security members are hired? You would think, in this day and age, that everyone would undergo a background check before they were hired, but it’s not the case. Background checks do cost money (not a lot of money) and do require some time, so a financially strapped college that needs to fill a job ASAP might skimp on something like this. Plus, the hiring process for campus security could be very different than the hiring process of the school’s professors and other staff. Don’t assume that just because one staff member has undergone a background check that all staff members have undergone a background check.

3.) How is the campus security funded and is it adequate? The national norm for the amount of an institutional budget that is spent on campus security is about 2.5-3 percent. How does this school use their funds? They can brag and brag and brag and brag about the level of personnel they have working for them, but if it’s only people because that’s all they can afford, it really doesn’t matter how outstanding they are. There is only so much so few people can handle. A financially strapped institution probably won’t be able to offer campus security escorts during sticky situations, for example.

4.) Where can I see the crime statistics for this school? One great way to know the effectiveness of campus security is checking to see how many crimes are actually reported. A safe campus doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is reported, it means that of the crimes that are reported, a healthy percentage of them are pursued and solved. Schools with little to no crime reports often mean that students aren’t reporting crimes because nothing ever happens to the perpetrators anyway.

5.) How often does the school conduct a comprehensive risk and threat analysis? The old, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra doesn’t work here. Every few years a whole new slew of problems arise, and if the campus security hasn’t been doing its research they won’t be able to do anything about them before it’s too late. Think about it; Facebook stalking has only been around fairly recently. Your school better have a plan set in place for dealing with something like that.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

A Stranger is in My Dorm, What Do I Do?

This is technically called a home invasion, but let’s be honest, no one ever calls it that in college. I can actually remember quite a few stories from friends of mine where they were awakened in the middle of the night to find a stranger in their dorm. And to tell you the truth, it really is an honest mistake most of the time. Think about it; you pull 4 all-nighters in a row, arrive at your dorm, walk up to the 3rd floor and find your dorm room is already open so no need to use the key. You walk in and fall asleep on your bed. Except in a few minutes someone wakes you up to tell you you’re in the wrong room. You’re not on the 3rd floor you’re on the 4th floor…see how easy that is?

And let’s not forget the countless times a group of friends drops their drunk buddy off at the main floor. Hey, as long as he’s in the building he’s not their problem anymore (or so they say). A drunk college kid trying to find the accurate dorm room in a sea of hundreds is going to yield some misses.

So I’m going to say something that may seem a bit strange: you need to almost expect a few interesting visitors throughout your semester, and the steps for scoping one out are a bit different than if you live off-campus.

1.) Don’t investigate. I’ll admit, in my home off campus if I heard something go bump in the night there’s no way I’d take it lightly, but in my dorm room I’ll investigate close to any random sound. I always figure it’s a roommate in the kitchen making a midnight snack or something. But if you have it on good authority that there’s a stranger in your dorm (your roommates are all gone for the weekend), don’t go wandering out to confront anyone.

2.) Get out. If you have a clear shot at the door, get the hell out. If you can alert your roomies then great, but you don’t have to go through your whole place right now. Step 3 is coming up.

3.) Call the front desk. Not campus security and not 9-1-1…not yet, anyway. The front desk guy only has to walk up a couple flights of stairs to get to your room, so the effect is immediate. Plus, if you do have someone that is in the wrong room by accident, the front desk clerk can take care of everything right away. If things are iffy, they will decide to call campus police. Of course if you call the front desk and no one answers, call campus police. If it’s a serious emergency, like you know the intruders have a gun, call 9-1-1.

4.) Use your wits. If you don’t have a personal alarm near you (which you really should in college), use your keychain. Most car alarms can reach a lot farther than you think, and pressing the panic button on your keychain will signal your car alarm. Besides just scaring the intruders away, someone is going to investigate who’s car it is and someone will be knocking on your door shortly to tell you to turn it the hell off.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

Buying a House with Friends

Let’s face it; paying rent sucks. It’s usually just money that’s going to nothing. Plus, you really have no say over what happens at your home. You need new locks put on the doors? It’s probably going to happen whenever your landlord gets around to it. When you own your own home the both of you can determine everything that happens with it. You can install a home alarm system, you don’t have to  worry about being evicted for having your  music too loud and you don’t have to hide your cat anymore.

Nowadays, more and more friends have been pooling their money together to buy a home. You might hear the term “mingles” being used to describe them. And it seems banks are even catching onto the trend, as more and more lenders are tailoring specific loans to friends looking to make a home purchase together.

And while there are many positives to such a relationship (your rent might be exactly the same, but now you’re both building equity with those monthly payments), there are definitely some other factors that you need to consider.

1.) How well do you know your friend? If you’ve known this person since childhood and are personally aware of the fact that they have never paid a bill late in their entire lives, then that’s a pretty good sign. Keep in mind though, if you guys are planning on living together in this house, are you ready to have them as a roommate? Just because you get along well doesn’t mean you can live together. Everyone has a few little quirks that might be deal-breakers to a roommate.

2.) Discuss all finances. Your credit score and putting in for a home loan aren’t the only things you need to consider. After you own the home, how much do each of you have for an emergency fund? Do both of you have enough money saved to pay for burst pipes or a failed roof? Homeownership between two people leaves no room for financial secrecy.

3.) Have you hired the right people? It’s not only important to hire an experienced real estate agent, but also an experienced real estate attorney. Since the paperwork will be different than that of a single buyer or a married couple, it’s very, very important that every, single detail be reviewed by an attorney. This will not only force you both to review each document in detail so you are both well prepared for the commitment, but it will clear things up should anything happen that would need to be settled in the future.

4.) Have you drawn up a lease? Even though you both own the home, a lease is an absolute must should things ever go downhill later. A lease should specify cohabitation terms. People change, and you want to make sure the person you are planning on living with does not change into a terror of a roommate. Then your hands are tied. A lease will ensure a comfortable and expected living space for both of you. Don’t be too nervous though, a lease can always be changed or adjusted in the future.

5.) Have you looked into insurance? Many couples both buy insurance separately, naming the other party as the beneficiary. This way, if one of you meets an untimely death, the other won’t be left in hot water.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

College Student Health Tips

Now just last week I posted an article about College New Year Resolutions, and not surprisingly, one of them was to get healthy. Now I get it; college is a huge life step, so why not make the best of it? Plus, since you’re not in high school anymore, this is your chance to create a new identity. It’s a new year, a new career path (you may even be starting your first semester of school in a few days) so why not start off by making yourself the healthiest ‘you’ you can be? I thought so.

But before you start off on some crazy plan (I’m going to run 14 miles a day!) and then quickly abandon it (as an avid runner even I can’t commit to running 14 miles a day), let’s get a few more useful habits into place.

1.) Clarify what and why you want to change. If you think the only thing keeping you from being happy is your weight, you’re wrong. There are a lot of factors that determining your happiness and you need to address all of them. That means that by “getting healthy”, you also need to address your mental state of mind. Are you stuck in a dead-end relationship? Do something about it. Are you constantly getting taken advantage of people? Make a change. Your physical appearance, contrary to popular opinion, has nothing to do with these two things. Your weight does not determine your self-worth.

2.) Address all areas of your health. That means not just exercising more often, but watching what you eat, making sure you’re drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, managing stress better and being more aware of your mental health. All of these things combined create a healthy identity, not just one or two on their own.

3.) Be specific, and write it down. You want to work out more? Great! How much? How often? Don’t just say “more”; make a goal. Two times a week? Three times a week? An hour each time? Write that down. Or maybe it’s a fitness goal, like you want to run a 5k by the end of the month. Write that down. Maybe you want to learn how to cook and decrease the amount of meals you eat out by 50%; leaving only three times during the week where you will eat out. Write that down.

4.) Be ready for set-backs. Research shows that habits are never actually broken; they are just replaced by stronger habits. You are never actually going to lose your sweet tooth, but you will become much better about giving into it all the time. Now keep in mind, research also says that it takes roughly three weeks straight for a new habit to start becoming second nature. That means if you abandon your goals by the second week, you really haven’t even given yourself a fighting chance! So if you miss the gym one day don’t sweat it, just go the next day. Gradually, you will be able to make a change.

5.) Keep things interesting. I mentioned earlier that I’m a runner. One of my goals every year is to run 365 miles by the end of the year (1 mile per day). However, I also know that I don’t run on treadmills. I get bored and frustrated. Outside I can run 10 miles, but on a treadmill I barely make it 2 miles before I move on to something else. If I relied on treadmills there’s no way I’d reach my goal, but by creating routes around my house I’m much more likely to stick to my plan.

And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spraysafes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lightingfun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!

What are some ways you plan on being more healthy this year?