(BPT) - Millions of eager college students across the country are starting a new school year. The excitement is electric on and around campuses, but to help ensure students have a year full of learning and fun, it's an important time to brush up on student safety.
While primarily a space for education, enrichment and community, college campuses, unfortunately, can also be a place where crimes and other incidents occur. According to Clery Act Reports, an average of over 24,000 crime and safety incidents have been reported annually on college campuses since 2009. These include:
- 2,411 robberies were reported on average annually
- 1,840 fires were reported on average annually
- 20,521 burglaries were reported on average annually
Students living in off-campus housing face a similar situation. No matter where you live, it's important to be proactive about things like theft, fire and crime so that people of all ages can feel secure while at school.
Students bring many things to college, including expensive items like laptops, smartphones and bikes. Always be aware of your surroundings and protect your things whenever possible by taking a few simple steps.
For example, consider getting your laptop engraved with your name, use complex passwords and only take it with you when needed. Keep your laptop zipped in a secure bag or backpack that you keep on you or within reach at all times. If you use a bike, always lock it when making stops.
When it comes to your home, it should be your safe space. Whether you live on or near campus, get into the habit of locking your door. If you have a room, consider a lock on your private space as well. Some students even have small safes for valuables.
Fires can occur on and off campus in dorms, fraternities, sororities and elsewhere. Fires pose a risk to your health and safety and can damage or destroy your personal items.
To lower your risk for fires, first check that fire alarms are in all living spaces and in working order. Next, know your fire escape plan for where you live, noting two different ways out. Finally, talk with roommates and others in the building about the importance of fire safety and basic steps like double checking stoves and hotplates are off and not putting flammable items too close to lamps.
While being proactive and prioritizing safety can make a big difference, crimes and other incidents can still happen. Most colleges do not cover the cost of stolen or damaged student property. Even if the event was not the student's fault (like a burglary or burst pipe that caused water damage), the student would likely be on their own to cover the financial cost.
"Families are smart to consider if they can afford to replace everything if it is stolen or damaged. For many students, the answer is no, not to mention the disruption to the entire college experience. Among rising college costs, many families would feel the sting of replacing a $1,500 laptop or $500 bicycle," said John Fees, cofounder of GradGuard, whose insurance programs have protected more than 1.3 million students since its founding in 2009.
GradGuard's College Renters Insurance contains an exclusive student endorsement that provides worldwide property coverage, liability protection, a low $100 deductible and no credit check. They work with hundreds of colleges and universities to offer affordable rates for coverage that start at jut $11 a month. So, whether you're studying abroad or visiting home for winter break, you can rest easy knowing your belongings are covered. Learn more at GradGuard.com.
As energies run high on college campuses nationwide, it's important also to be mindful of safety and security. These simple steps can help ensure students stay well so they can focus on their studies, personal growth and making cherished lifelong memories.