October 14, 2008
Thomas Kane is the president of The College Safety Zone and author of the book, Protect Yourself at College. He shares the top five tips every student should know to stay safe on campus, and what to do if you’ve been sexually assaulted.
Top Five Safety Tips
1. Never walk alone
Try to get in the habit of walking with someone wherever you go. Never, ever walk alone at night! Plan before you go out for the evening. Who is going to walk with you to your event? Who is going to walk home with you from your event? There is safety in numbers. By walking with someone else, you significantly reduce the chances of being hurt.
2. Limit alcohol
It is imperative to drink in moderation. Have a plan before you go out. Limit the number of drinks you consume. Plan how you intend on returning home before you leave for the evening. Ask someone to keep an eye on you for the night, and you can do the same for her.
3. No iPod or ATM at night
By using your iPod, you have lost one of your most important senses – your hearing. Since your eyesight is limited during evening hours, you make yourself more vulnerable if you use your iPod. If you do use it, just put in one ear bud. Get in the habit of using your ATM during daylight hours. Make sure any ATM you use is in a well-lit area. Never use an ATM located at the rear of a bank. Never count your money while you’re standing near the ATM. Be alert of who is around you at all times.
4. Change your route and your routine
When walking on campus, get in the habit of taking a different route once or twice a week. Switch your routine. Do not become predictable! If you ever think you are being followed, cross the street and change direction. Find an open store or an area where people are gathered. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Know where campus security phones are located.
5. Give someone your schedule
Communication is key! Give your roommate your schedule, and you should get hers. Get in the habit of writing down your schedule and leaving it in the same place in your room. Whether going to class, over to a friend’s apartment, out for the evening or going to lunch in the cafeteria, make it a habit to leave your schedule with an estimated time you’ll return home.
Five Steps if You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted
1. Do not bathe or change clothes after the assault, because this can wash away evidence.
2. Get to a hospital immediately.
3. Ask medical personnel to use a rape kit. The rape kit is very important because it offers biological and as well as physical evidence of sexual assault.
4. Ask for a urine and drug test. If there is a date rape drug that was ingested or consumed somehow, there’s a small 12- to 24-hour period when it can be detected.
5. Notify the police from the hospital to file a report.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call (800) 656-HOPE for support and instruction on what to do.