School Year

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Take a course in dorm safety

College students have a few different living options at their disposal, but many opt for dormitory living, as it is one of the more convenient and popular boarding options, particularly for out-of-town students. Thousands of post-secondary students pack up their belongings and move away from home in the pursuit of an education, and parents want to do what they can to ensure their college-aged kids are safe.

For many students, college represents the first time they will live anywhere other than the homes they grew up in. Dorm life can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be one that may open new college students up to inherently risky situations.

While students should look forward to fun and excitement at school, it's also important for them to be prepared for what lies ahead at college and in dorm life — and to take the proper safety precautions.

• Fall in with a trustworthy group of dorm friends. Friends can be informed of your schedule for both classes and work, so they are aware of where you are supposed to be at certain times of the day. If something is amiss, these friends can alert authorities or investigate your whereabouts further.

• Lock your dorm room door. Always keep the dorm room door locked, and make sure your roommate is on the same page. Locking the door can deter people from entering without your permission and prevent theft.

• Keep belongings out of sight. When preparing to move into a dorm, leave heirlooms or expensive jewelry at home. Once you move in, store your more valuable belongings out of sight or in a locked box or safe. Consider getting insurance for dorm belongings, which will protect you in the event of theft.

• Travel in groups. When attending parties or other functions, always arrive and leave in a group. This offers extra protection, as assaults and other crimes are less likely to occur when criminals are outnumbered.

• Know the evacuation routes. Learn your dorm's evacuation policies. Know where all exits are and how to get out of the building if exits may be blocked. Find out if fire drills or other safety procedures are practiced, and participate in them.

• Use the elevator. If there's an elevator, use it. Stairwells are secluded and dark and often provide the perfect opportunity for would-be criminals to take advantage of unsuspecting students.

Use common sense and trust your instincts with regard to dorm safety. Make college memories good ones by emphasizing caution.