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5 College Campus Safety Tips

Going to college is the first time that many people will be living away from home. Whether you are just moving across town to attend college or have made a cross-country move, it is the first time that you are truly independent. Living in an unfamiliar area can be scary, and now that you're living on your own, it is more important than ever to take steps to safeguard your personal safety.

Even on a college campus, walking alone at night is an unwise decision. Many students forget that college campuses are not closed off to the outside world. There is no way to guarantee that everyone you see on campus belongs there. When walking anywhere at night, even just back to your dorm room, always try to walk in a group, making it much less likely that anyone will bother you. Many college campuses offer shuttles or security escorts at night, sometimes even if you live off campus or are returning from somewhere off-campus.

When out alone in the evening, leave designer purses and clothes at home. They are an attractive target for thieves. Walk quickly and directly to your destination, staying in well-lit areas. Avoid shortcut paths at night. Even if you know them well, they may not be well lit. Take off your headphones, turn off your MP3 player, and pay attention to your surroundings. Notice something suspicious? Walk in the other direction, go to the nearest occupied building, and alert campus security.

Particularly during your first couple of months living away from home, avoid drinking too much alcohol. You may be excited about the new freedoms you've found at college, but excessive alcohol can lower your guard, leaving you susceptible to physical attacks or unwanted sexual advances. If you're headed to a bar or party, let someone know exactly where you are going, and what time you plan to return. They should have your cell phone number; leave your phone turned on at all times.

Though "don't talk to strangers" may seem like old-fashioned advice, it is still fitting, even in college. Be friendly, but also aware of what you're getting yourself into. Don't find yourself alone with someone you hardly know, because you never know what they could be planning. Date rape is an unfortunate occurrence that happens thousands of times each year.

Even if you feel safe on your college campus, be prepared. Carry a small flashlight and a can of pepper spray in your bag. This is a great way to protect yourself from anyone who may try to bother you. Pepper spray is designed to be sprayed just like a can of hairspray or paint, so you don't have to remember any complicated instructions when an attacker frightens you. In just seconds, pepper spray can disable your attacker and allow you to escape and find help.

You may feel invincible on your college campus, but the sad truth is that you can't let your guard down. Virtually anyone could be on your college campus at any time, and it's important to be prepared for worst-case scenarios by knowing how to avoid them, watching out for dangerous situations, and carrying pepper spray so that you can fight back if they do happen.

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